Tesla must stop overpromising, could need more finance: analysts

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc TSLA.O shares fell more than 6 percent on Thursday on concern that the carmaker's performance was consistently falling short of chief executive Elon Musk's promises, while several analysts argued it could need more financing soon.

FILE PHOTO - The logo of Tesla is seen in Taipei, Taiwan on August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

Four major houses - including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan - cut their price targets by $5-$10 after the electric carmaker reported its worst ever quarterly loss and pushed back production targets for its Model 3 vehicle by three months.

While shares in Silicon Valley star Musk’s venture were still up 50 percent for the year, reflecting faith in its positioning as a major future manufacturer, the company’s share price has now retreated 23 percent since mid-September.

“Tesla needs to slow down and more narrowly focus its vision and come up for a breath of fresh air,” Cowen and Co analysts said in a note. “Elon Musk needs to stop over promising and under delivering.”

Wall Street’s ratings on Tesla remain largely as they have been for most of this year. Only 7 of 24 brokerages rate it a “sell”, up from 6 of 21 in May; 8 houses still recommend buying the stock compared to 7 six months ago.

Most remained hopeful that Tesla can overcome the problems in the rampup of production of its more affordable Model 3 sedan that have dominated company statements in the past three months.

But analysts were more divided on Musk’s assurances that the company was now on top of the Model 3 issues and well-capitalized for the extra investment needed to resolve them.

“With Tesla’s cash drain growing and production and gross margin visibility low, we see TSLA as a show me story,” Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said in a note. “(It) is clearly still struggling with production issues.”

He rates the stock “market-perform” but with a price target of $265, $35 below its current market price.

Goldman analysts, who already recommend selling Tesla shares, zeroed in on Musk’s estimate that the company would not start spending heavily on future production in China before 2019, saying investors had expected the company to produce in the Chinese market within one to two years.

They said Musk would have to raise more capital in the second quarter of next year.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham