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Alex Cho

Tesla Motors Price Target Maintained at $215 from Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank sits at the absolute high-end of the range with regards to their rev/EPS estimate on Tesla Motors. The analysts have a price target of $215, but forecast FY’17 revenue of $12.54 billion and EPS of $4.19.

The analysts at DB are conservative on their price target, and while it’s not clear whether their revision upwards on rev/earnings had any impact on their price target, but it’s worth noting that the comments being made from the cons. is incrementally positive in the bull camp, whereas bear camp continues to harp on the cash issues, and how it may be detrimental to the near-term earnings/balance sheet fundamentals.

I guess, this is one of the few cases where the divergence in cons. view creates some optionality in terms of earnings upside that may force the remainder of the cons. upwards. Valuation is contingent on Model 3 execution, and very few are willing to embed earnings/sales forecasts that implies upwards of 100k+ Model S/X units paired with an initial product ramp of 300k+ Model 3 units in FY’18.

Here were the key comments from Rod Lache over at Deutsche Bank:

Operating results from the “Motors” business were optically weaker than expected– Gross margin 22.2% vs. DBe 25.1% and 25.0% in Q3—but this was largely due to temporary factors (3 point impact from deferred revenue for Autopilot; FX; asset disposition). Free cash burn was ~$756MM in the ballpark of our $882MM est, and this included $667MM consumed from operating leases and inventory (i.e. funding of lease transactions and finished vehicles in-transit). Maintain Hold based on valuation.

Overall, while we are encouraged by Tesla’s progress towards their plan, and we continue to view Tesla as being in an advantaged position with respect to several of the most important Auto Industry trends (Electrification, Automation, Connectivity), we remain cautious on the stock based on valuation; particularly given significant risks and uncertainties about the company’s capital and cost plans.

I continue to remain optimistic on Tesla Motors, but can easily acknowledge that investors/analysts are kind of hesitant to assign an aggressive premium. Though, concerns over valuation have been a sticking point for many, I believe valuation on forward multiples/cash flows will shift towards longer-duration cum. Cashflow projections on top of heightened multiple expansion upon confirmation of actual production at the Fremont Facility for Model 3 in a Q4’18 timeframe, which would far exceed estimates, and expectations baked into shares currently.

Notwithstanding, the valuation premium is steep, as noted by many members of the consensus, but that’s been the case for quite a while now. I think momentum still favors the long-term holders at TSLA notwithstanding the conservatism and skepticism voiced by analysts.

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