Seldom since the days of the dotcom bubble has a single investment analyst’s call so electrified the stock market.
Shares in Tesla Motors, the US electric car manufacturer that had already climbed a wall of investor euphoria, shot up as much as 19 per cent on Tuesday morning thanks to a single note from a Wall Street analyst.
Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley predicted that, on the most optimistic assumptions, Tesla’s shares could more than double from their already lofty level. That would value the company at more than the almost $60bn market value of General Motors – even though its plans to deliver 35,000 luxury Model S electric sedans this year pale in comparison to GM’s near-10m vehicle sales in 2013.
If Mr Jonas’s forecasts come true, Tesla will outsell battery rival Bolloré of France by more than eight times by 2022, beat every major carmaker’s estimates of widespread autonomous car penetration, and sell more electric cars by the end of the decade than Renault and Nissan combined, the runaway market leaders today.
The bold call added around $5bn to Tesla’s market value on Tuesday morning and prompted warnings that record share prices on Wall Street were prompting some analysts to reach for expansive targets not seen since the tech boom of the late 1990s.
“Perhaps as a result Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition last week, people are boldly going where no one has gone before,” said David Garrity, a former leading Wall Street autos analyst and now principal at GVA Research. “People are fervid in their imaginations about where things can go.”
Mr Jonas’s bull case for Tesla reminded some investors of the most infamous dotcom bubble call, when a then little-known analyst named Henry Blodget sent shares of Amazon.com up 19 per cent on a single day in 1998 after predicting the stock would jump to $400.
Mr Blodget later described his call, which coincided with the final leg of the tech boom, as “like throwing gasoline on a bonfire”. The shares topped his forecast weeks later before falling back with the dotcom rout.
Besides riding a boom in the electric car business, Tesla could be in line to dominate a second gigantic business, according to Morgan Stanley: sales of power storage equipment to electric utilities, which is set to be a $1.5tn market.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, indicated last week that it was on the brink of announcing what he called a “gigafactory” to produce more lithium ion cells for batteries than the entire current world production.
To cap it off, Mr Jonas also predicted that Tesla was in line to become the leading maker of self-driving vehicles. Pointing to eventual full adoption of driverless cars two decades from now, he wrote: “100 per cent autonomous penetration, utopian society”.
Mr Garrity made a bold call of his own at the height of the internet boom in 1999, predicting that ecommerce company Commerce One, then trading at $420, would reach $1,000. The stock came within a whisker of his target only six days later, before eventually succumbing to the dotcom rout.
“I should have declared victory and gone home,” Mr Garrity said on Tuesday.
Tesla closed at $248, up 13.94%.
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