Tesla's Shares Hit 52-Week Low as Wall Street Abandons It

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) shares reached a 52-week low as investors fretted about late deliveries, production capacity and rising competition from some of the world’s largest manufacturers.

Tesla’s stock dropped to $157.74, a 52-week low, compared to a 52-week high of $286.65. In just the past month, shares have fallen 26%.

An example of Wall Street’s new pessimism about Tesla appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently:

Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley Tesla analyst, slashed his 12- to 18-month price target on shares of the electric vehicle company by $117, or 26%, Monday to $333 from $450, citing product launch delays, low oil prices and competitive pressures.

The gas price portion of the analysis is easy. The average price for a gallon of regular nationwide is $1.80, near decade-long lows.

Tesla’s manufacturing pace is harder to pin down exactly, but a small army of critics claim it will be much slower than expected a quarter ago. With low production rates, Tesla cannot reach its publicly stated sales goals.

Much of the anxiety about competition has centered on self-driving cars, because Tesla’s founder Elon Musk says new versions of his cars will have this feature. However, the future of self-driving cars appears to be years away, at least against the question of mass adoption. Therefore, this is not Tesla’s primary problem.

The more immediate concern is the pace at which new “electric” cars have begun to enter the market. Some of these are not entirely electric like Tesla models, but it appears they will suffice. One example is the BMW i8, which competes with the high-end Tesla Model S. The BMW has a tiny three-cylinder engine to supplement the electric engine. Consumers may not care about that tiny wrinkle.

The conventional wisdom has moved in the direction that the Tesla is not the “supercar” that the public believed it was. For once, the conventional wisdom is right.