Europe Is Just Part of the X-Factor Driving Tesla Stock

Tesla stock - Europe Is Just Part of the X-Factor Driving Tesla Stock

Google “Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Deliveries Q1 2019” and you’ll likely get more than 450,000 results. Investors are anxiously awaiting Elon Musk’s release of the company’s first-quarter delivery and production forecast. These two numbers, more than anything, are what’s currently driving TSLA stock.

I believe this is short-sighted. Here’s why.

Nio Beats Expectations

Nio (NYSE:NIO) announced its Q1 ES8 deliveries on April 2. Management expected to deliver between 3,500-3,800 of the SUVs. It delivered 3,989, sending Nio stock up 38 cents, or more than 7%, on the news in early Tuesday trading.

Nio longs will point to this as a reason for optimism. A fair assumption. It’s better than delivering fewer than 3,500. Those longs also point to the fact that Tesla’s going to have its hands full competing in China with a homegrown electric vehicle manufacturer.

Who is the Chinese government going to support? An American company or Nio?

Frankly, I think Beijing is going to do what’s best for Beijing. And right now, as much as Nio’s proving it can produce vehicles at a decent clip, it’s nowhere near the production level of Tesla and probably won’t be for 2-3 years. And that’s if it can survive financially.

Tesla stock investors ought to forget about the competition and focus on what Tesla is doing to grow its business on a global basis.

North America’s Doing Fine

The fate of TSLA stock lies in two geographies: China and Europe.

Production and deliveries in the U.S. are doing just fine. A quick look at the 2018 U.S. sales chart of electric vehicles shows the Models 3, X. and S in first place, third place, and fourth place respectively. The 139,782 Model 3 sold were more than the sales of all the non-Tesla electric vehicles combined.

Analysts expect Tesla to report Q1 Model 3 production of 64,000. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Tesla tracker suggests the car maker could blow past that number, producing as many as 78,000 Model 3’s during the period.

If you own TSLA stock, I wouldn’t sweat it if Tesla came in under 64,000. If it does, and the stock drops, it’s a buying opportunity. If you don’t own Tesla stock but are considering buying, buy a bit now and more later regardless of the number. 

Canaccord Genuity analyst Jed Dorsheimer has a buy rating and a 12-month target price of $450. He recently drove the Standard Plus Model 3 that starts at $37,500, mere dollars above the entry-level vehicle. He had high praise for the Model 3 which roars from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds.

“With the performance of a 911 and the price of an Audi A4 or BMW 3 series, we see the Model 3 as the best value proposition currently on the market today,” Dorsheimer wrote in a note to clients, reiterating his rating and price target. 

The big driver of growth for Tesla and Tesla stock will be Europe and China.

Delays and Other Concerns

JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) analyst Ryan Brinkman isn’t so enthusiastic. He met with Tesla management in late March and came away unimpressed. The headwinds it faces in Europe and China are too considerable to keep TSLA stock moving higher no matter what it does in North America.

“1Q results are particularly susceptible to potential delays in delivering Model 3’s to customers in Europe and China,” Brinkman wrote in a note out March 29. “Any delays in delivering vehicles to Europe and China carry the potential for a disproportionate impact on 1Q deliveries (and, hence, revenue, margin, and cash flow), given the already guided back-end-loaded nature of 1Q deliveries.”

He’s so concerned about Tesla’s ability to sell, produce, and deliver cars outside North America that he’s cut his 12-month target price by $15 to $215, less than half Dorsheimer’s target price.

Somebody’s got to be wrong in the long-term. Regardless of what happens in the first quarter, I think Brinkman will be on the losing end of this proposition because, ultimately, China and Europe are the pathways to sustainable profitability. 

Bottom Line on Tesla Stock

Tesla stock is not a name you buy with your retirement funds. It’s meant for your “fun” fund.

It’s an excellent company with great products. But risk-free, it isn’t. If you can’t stand the fire, get out of the kitchen. Otherwise, don’t sweat the TSLA stock near-term. It is what it is.

At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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