Tesla Downgrade Not Really a Downgrade, Maybe an Opportunity

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is trading lower on the heels of another cautious analyst note from Wall Street. Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas has slashed his delivery expectations for the 2015 Model X, with deliveries now expected to be 5,000 units. The previous expectation was 15,000. This may sound like a big analyst downgrade, but the reality is that this analyst call is far from it.

In addition to delivery cuts, this is of course lowering financial estimates as well. Morgan Stanley now sees 2015 earnings per share at $2.45, versus a prior call of $4.39. The pre-call consensus estimates was for $2.99 per share.

Despite the changes and lower estimates, Morgan Stanley’s Buy rating on Tesla was maintained. Surprisingly, so was the firm’s super-high price target of $320.

On Tuesday there was a report from the same firm that a Model X delivery delay could be related to its winged doors. Still, there seems to be no mention of any issues with the doors from the company. Jonas said the forecasts are based on reasonable execution risk on what is an important model and ensuring quality of the initial units.

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The analyst’s final take in that Buy rating and $320 price target is that any car delivery delays could be an opportunity to increase exposure in what is now the most important manufacturer of cars in the world.

Tesla shares were down more than 4% in early Wednesday trading to $246.95. Tesla’s 52-week range is $116.10 to $291.42, and the consensus analyst price target is almost $275. The $320 price target from Morgan Stanley is not the street-high analyst price target. That is all the way up at $400 and comes from Stifel’s Jamie Albertine.

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