Tesla Motors Inc On Track to Launch Model X and Gigafactory; Analysts Weigh In

Electric vehicle giant Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has created a lot of buzz in the financial markets as both the Model X SUV and the $5 billion battery Gigafactory are on track and rolling ahead.

Wall Street analysts are closely watching Tesla Motors as it prepares to release the upcoming Model X, which is considered to be the company’s most important release since its inception. Analysts see the vehicle as a key catalyst in Tesla’s long-term growth and market dominance in the electric vehicle space.

The relatively small automaker faces rising competition from companies like General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan in the electric vehicle market. It is vital for Tesla Motors to have a successful launch within the scheduled deadline as the launch of the Model X has been delayed for more than a year now.

The car is the company’s first attempt to succeed in creating an SUV. The X will combine the space and functionality of a seven seat sport utility vehicle with the uncompromised performance of a Tesla. Musk has revealed that the Model X will hit the markets in the next three to four months, most likely sometime in September.

Jefferies analyst Dan Dolev weighed in on Tesla on June 25, reiterating a Buy rating on the stock and raising his price target to $360 from $350. In Dolev’s report, he included a survey that Jefferies conducted of 145 U.S. Tesla owners. Dolev pointed out, “our survey of 145 Tesla owners challenges conventional wisdom that owners are a uniform group of luxury car buyers.” He cites that Tesla owners aren’t necessarily all wealthy early adapters of high tech toys. He continued, “On average, owners were willing to pay 60% more for a Tesla” than cheaper vehicles they previously drove.

Dan Dolev currently has an 81% success rate recommending stocks and an average return of +13.5% per recommendation. The analyst has rated Tesla twice since May 2015, earning a 50% success rate recommending the stock and a +7% return per Tesla recommendation.

Pacific Crest Analyst Brad Erickson also provided insight on Tesla’s progress with the Model X production on June 26 after he toured the electric carmaker’s Fremont, California, manufacturing plant.

In his research report, Erickson wrote, “We were encouraged to see Tesla’s new body line [called Body Line 2] beginning to pilot Model X shells.” The analyst explains that he “views this as a good sign toward the company being able to launch the vehicle on time.” While at the factory plant he observed “several buses worth of new employees receiving training for the new line. To say the mood in the factory is one of gearing up would be an understatement.”

Erickson also points out that the Giga Factory is an additional huge undertaking for Tesla. Erickson illuminated director of Economic Development Steven Hill’s point on June 25 that work on the Tesla’s Gigafactory is ahead of schedule. Hill explained, “certainly by one year from now, the factory will be producing batteries.”

Brad Erickson reiterated a Buy rating on Tesla Motors with a $293 price target. Erickson has a 81% success rate recommending stocks and an average return of +31.1% per Tesla recommendation. The analyst has rated Tesla 8 times total since August 2014, earning an 88% success rate recommending the stock and a +18.4% return per recommendation.

The Tesla Gigafactoy is a lithium-ion battery factory which is under construction at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Nevada. It will be used to produce batteries for Tesla’s electric cars and a battery system for homes. Tesla has hired more than 740 construction workers since the project began. Tesla expects full battery production to begin within a year. By 2020, Tesla expects to be able to make 500,000 batteries a year at the factory.

Out of the 11 top analysts polled by TipRanks, 10 analysts are bullish on Tesla and 1 is bearish. The average 12-month price target for Tesla is $302, marking a 13.07% upside potential from where the stock is currently trading On average, the top analyst consensus for Tesla is a Hold.

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