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Alex Cho

Tesla Motors Price Target Maintained at $305 from Morgan Stanley

Adam Jonas mostly maintained his price target and stance on Tesla Motors in his research note following TSLA earnings. His price target of $305 sits at the high-end of cons. and his overweight recommendation is higher than cons. as well.

Here were Adam’s most insightful comments from his research note released today:

Tesla had every chance to use this opportunity to introduce any level of execution risk (either within or outside of their control) that could impact the timing of the initial launch and the volume ramp. They didn’t. Tesla still targets a production launch at least a few months before our forecast and has reiterated its goal of achieving Model 3 production at 5,000 units/week in 4Q (we don’t expect this before the year 2020) and 10,000 units/week by 2018 (we don’t expect this level of Model 3 volume to achieved before the year 2025).

The guidance of $2 to $2.5bn in capex spending 'ahead of the start of Model 3 production' compares to our current capex forecast of $1.8bn for the full year 2017. Some of this increase is from the $0.5bn of spending in 2016 moved into 2017 while the rest of the increase appears related to expenditures on tooling/capacity of Model 3, SCTY consolidation and a more aggressive ramp of its physical distribution/service/charging network and storage expansion.

Take a step back and consider how much Tesla has spent on capex and R&D in recent years. It really is an extreme figure in both absolute and relative terms. From the beginning of 2014 through the first half of 2017 we estimate Tesla would have spent as much as $10bn in combined/aggregate R&D (approx. $3bn) and capex (approx. $7bn). It seems the scope and scale of the firm’s ambitions have taken the market by surprise, leaving investors to consider both the inherent risk and the opportunity.

Adam Jonas don’t leave the bull camp! His stance was slightly precautionary compared to where he’s been in his research leading up to the quarterly earnings report. Of course, his discussion on cash burn, cash deployment, and where it may lead going forward was marginally negative, but I believe his stance on potential upside/bull scenario also captures some of what will likely actually occur.

Of course, his comments on CapEx and marginal spend was in-line with some of the concerns cited by other analysts. I still believe the CapEx efficiency on future deployments for another gigafactory or production facility to be vastly more efficient.

Investors should stay on board TSLA. Bet against the consensus view and stick with TSLA shares folks, that’s all I have to say.

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