Tesla’s getting a boost from batteries, China plant, analysts say

Robots are used extensively on the assembly line at the Tesla auto plant in Fremont, Calif. on June 12, 2012.
Monday turned out to be a good day for Tesla, as the company received a double dose of enthusiasm from Wall Street analysts regarding two different aspects of its electric carmaking operations.
Dan Levy, of Credit Suisse, said in a research note that after touring Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory, where the company makes batteries for its vehicles, he believes Tesla is “likely ahead of others on batteries (which are) the core of the electric (car) powertrain.” Levy went on to say that because of its production capacity, he thinks Tesla is “leading in the areas that will likely define the future of carmaking — software and electrification.”
Levy said that one of the things in Tesla’s favor is the level of its battery capacity production. Last year, Tesla had 44 gigawatt hours of battery capacity, which is almost as much as the 46 gigawatt hours of capacity of all the other electric automakers combined.
Levy’s opinion is notable because he otherwise remains one of the most skeptical Tesla analysts. Levy holds an underweight rating, or the equivalent of sell, on Tesla’s stock. He also has a $200-a-share price target on Tesla’s stock, almost 48% less than the $381.50-a-share price Tesla’s stock closed at on Monday.
But Levy said that even though he doesn’t think Tesla as an investment makes the most sense, “it’s important to give Tesla its credit where due.”
In addition to Levy’s views on its battery business, Tesla also received some enthusiasm regarding the car-production capabilities of its plant near Shanghai.
The first cars produced at Tesla’s Shanghai factory just recently rolled off the plant’s assembly line, and Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch said in a research report Monday that photos of the cars suggest “expectations for a relatively smooth (production) ramp of Tesla’s China facility are increasing.” Rusch added that he believes Tesla has “learned important lessons from the (production) ramp of Model S, X, and 3 and is implementing best practices in the new factory.”
Rusch also said that its appears Tesla is “tracking” toward reaching its goal of delivering 360,000 vehicles this year.

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