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The Autopilot Scrutiny Could Be a Hurdle for Tesla (TSLA) Stock: Morgan Stanley


Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) puts a lot of emphasis on the safety of its vehicles and proudly touted that the Model S achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested back in 2013. However, as Tesla’s vehicle population grows, so could the statistical instance of crashes and fatalities.

Case in point: A potential tragic event would add more pressure on Tesla’s stock. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has put out a research note to investors today highlighting this issue.

Jonas points out: “While the vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, we note that given the media attention surrounding Tesla and its driver-assist technologies, the company may attract an extraordinarily high level of scrutiny that could contribute to volatility in the share price.”

Jonas continued, “By the end of 2020, we estimate that Tesla will have over 800k cars on the road in the US, driving ~9,200 miles/year per car. In aggregate, Tesla’s US fleet will drive a total of ~7.5bn miles in 2020. While this is an extremely small portion of the 3.5tr total US miles traveled that we estimate for 2020 (around 0.4%), it is still a large enough number for accidents to happen with some meaningful frequency.”

Net net, Jonas reiterates an Equal-weight rating on Tesla shares, with a price target of $291, which represents a potential upside of 5% from where the stock is currently trading.

According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Adam Jonas has a yearly average return of 10.4% and a 53% success rate. Jonas has a 31.1% average return when recommending TSLA, and is ranked #632 out of 4801 analysts.

Wall Street absolutely echoes Jonas’ tone of caution on the electric car giant, with TipRanks analytics exhibiting TSLA as a Hold. Out of 20 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 4 are bullish on Tesla stock, 9 are sidelined, and 7 are bearish on the stock. With a slight upside, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $282.40.