Even Tesla Expected to Have Currency Headwinds

Chris Lange

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) received a solid valuation from Credit Suisse Monday, but the news was somewhat mixed. Credit Suisse maintained an Outperform rating with a $290 price target, though the firm did lower its estimates. The adjustment to the estimates is based on currency headwinds from European markets.

The brokerage firm believes that recent improvements to Tesla products have expanded the addressable market by roughly 75% and will drive incremental demand. The backlog appears very solid, in the eight- to nine-week range, as current U.S. orders are delivered in June, European orders in July and China’s orders in late July. Credit Suisse is incrementally confident in the second quarter and full-year volume guidance and looks forward to the newly expanded addressable market doubling again on the Model X launch.

Despite early reviews, it has become clear that the initial Model S was well-below its potential and required significant ongoing engineering focus. The work being addressed to the Model S should roll through to initial Model X, enabling an easier launch and allowing Tesla to quickly move engineering resources to Model 3 development.

Credit Suisse expects a loss of $0.57 per share in the first quarter and revises its 2015 and 2016 earnings per share (EPS) estimates to $0.12 and $3.80 from $0.73 and $4.50, respectively, due to the weakened euro. Beyond the first quarter, the brokerage firm expects sequential delivery growth of more than 2,000 units per quarter throughout 2015, which should lead to $70 million to $80 million of sequential gross profit per quarter, in the range of $0.45 to $0.50 per share.

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The firm noted that more visibility on this business could lead to additional valuation support. Very rough estimates are that storage could be worth $35 to $40 per share currently.

Tesla has a street-high price target of $400, which implies upside of nearly 70% from current prices.

Shares of Tesla were up roughly 8.4% at $236.86 midday Monday. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $261.75 and a 52-week trading range of $177.22 to $291.42.