Morgan Stanley Has a (Mostly) Sunny Forecast for Tesla Stock

Feb 20, 2015 06:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Tesla stock has been on shaky ground of late, but Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas believes shares could be soaring by the end of the year--depending on how the Model X performs.

To reach the analyst's estimate, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based carmaker's shares need to jump 37 percent from a $211.71 closing price on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported. In September, Tesla stock briefly reached a high of $290; it dropped as low as $185 last month. 

Jonas' forecast is banking on both the red-hot Tesla brand and the upcoming Model X sport-utility vehicle, which is slated to arrive in the late summer after nearly two years of delays.

"Who would you rather give $1.5 billion to invest in 2015: Elon Musk or your average auto company?" Jonas asked in his earnings estimate, as quoted by the Journal. "The answer is clear to us. If the Model X launches in August and does the things we think it can do, we believe this stock can set new highs by year end."

Despite his high hopes for the automaker, Jonas has trimmed his target price for Tesla stock from $290 to $280, following a drop from $320 to $290 in January, according to Forbes.

Tesla will have to be a big spender for the next year and a half, which is a guaranteed way to make investors uneasy. But the payout should be worth it even if Tesla burns through as much as half of its gross cash by the end of the year and three-quarters of it by the second quarter of 2016, Jonas said.

"If we weren't so convinced of the magnitude of industry disruption facing the auto sector and Tesla's unique abilities to effect such change, we'd be far more concerned," he wrote, as quoted by the Journal.

But while Tesla is still considered a good investment, the automaker could be down to the wire when it comes to spending.

"Does this company need to raise fresh funds?" asked the Morgan Stanley report. "Maybe not on a spreadsheet, but on our math there's not a ton of room for error."

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