stock closed at a record on Thursday after a bullish call from Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney. It’s good news for Tesla bulls. But with analyst upgrades, and
indexation in the offing, bullish investors might be wondering why shares aren’t up more.
The stock closed up 4.3% at 593.48 but didn’t hit a 52-week high, which was $607.80 set on Nov. 30. The previous record close was $585.76 on Nov. 27. There are a couple factors that might be, if you will, holding the stock back.
One thing investors might be worried about is another secondary stock offering. Issuing new shares could help facilitate smooth trading upon Tesla’s (ticker: TSLA) inclusion in the S&P. Tesla follower Gary Black addressed the issue on Thursday.
Black is a former Wall Street analyst and fund manager. While he doesn’t work for a big brokerage, he is an important voice on Tesla. For starters, he has more than 24,000
(TWTR) followers. He also had the equivalent of a $250 price target at the beginning of the year and a $700- plus price target before Goldman’s Delaney raised his target price on Tesla stock to $780 from $455. Black has been right.
Tesla sold $5 billion in stock at the start of September. Some investors suspected it was to help facilitate entry into the S&P 500 back then. But the S&P committee passed over Tesla then, deciding in November to add the company. Tesla will enter the index on Dec. 21.
Smooth trading is a big issue for Tesla and the S&P index committee. It is the most valuable company to ever enter the Index. What’s more, the Index fund business is bigger than it was in the past, when other large names were added.
Index funds have tens of millions of Tesla stock to Buy. Investors don’t want to see excess volatility, with the stock bid up only to potentially give back some of the pre-index gains following the required buying.
Black doesn’t want to see a secondary offering, but not all Tesla bulls agree. A stock offering is a good idea, according to New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu. He rates Tesla shares Buy and has a $578 price target for shares. Investors don’t always like dilution, but Ferragu points out any dilution would be small, only about 1% in shares for each $5 billion raised. “More money to build factories faster, given where their equity is, it is a no-brainer.”
A secondary offering is probably the biggest of the potential negative factors. But there has been a lot of positive news. In addition to Delaney, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas upgraded shares to Buy on Nov.18.
There is also Elon Musk’s reported email telling employees that the company must control costs or the stock will get crushed like a souffle. There is no reason investors should worry that costs are exploding, but investors don’t like to think of their holdings getting crushed.
Tesla’s recent profitability has surprised to the upside recently. Tesla produced a 9.2% operating margin in the third quarter, up about 5 percentage points year over. Tesla’s margin was also about 2 percentage points better than
Tesla margins are helped by the selling of regulatory credits earned by selling more than its fair share of zero-emission vehicles.
There is also the possibility that the stock is pausing after rising so much. Shares are up about 45% since the S&P index committee announced inclusion on Nov. 16. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
is up 0.1% over the same span.
That is probably the simplest explanation. That doesn’t mean, however, things will remain calm. Options markets imply a more than 20% move, up or down, in Tesla stock between now and mid-January. The comparable calculation for
(GM) yields roughly 10%.
Write to Al Root at [email protected]