June 12, 2019 / 11:05 AM / 6 days ago

Analysts split on Tesla 2019 delivery promises

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc shares were down 2% on Wednesday, as analysts remained divided on the electric-carmaker’s chances of meeting delivery and production targets in the months ahead, despite Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s reassurances at an annual shareholder meeting.

FILE PHOTO: Newly manufactured Tesla vehicles are shown parked in a large lot next to the airport in Burbank, California, U.S. August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Musk told shareholders on Tuesday that Tesla was on track to hit its volume production goal for the year, indicating the demand for its cars remains strong.

“We made as many cars last year as we had in our entire history. And this year, it’s going to be pretty similar at least sort of 60% to 80% growth of the total vehicle fleet, maybe more than that, “ Musk said.

Analysts at Cowen & Co, however, questioned the 47-year old billionaire’s comment, saying “Musk claims that sales have far exceeded production, but the data doesn’t suggest”.

“Basic microeconomic theory would suggest that goods or services that don’t have a demand problem, don’t see their prices lowered by half a dozen times in 4-5 months.”

The company has lowered prices for its vehicles multiple times in the past few months to boost sales of its models.

In the first quarter ended March, Tesla reported a 31% fall in deliveries, sparking concerns about the company’s ability to make profits and meet its delivery targets while it grapples with issues related to cash flow and manufacturing.

However, Baird analyst Ben Kallo, rated four out of five stars for his accuracy on estimates for Tesla, believes “bear arguments will be disproven in the coming weeks and months”.

He also expects the carmaker, which witnessed steady demand over the past few weeks, to be cash flow positive in the second quarter.

At least eight Wall Street brokerages cut their price target for Tesla in May to an average of $280.31 a share, according to Refinitiv data. Shares of the company have fallen by around $120 in 2019 and were trading at around $222 before the bell on Wednesday.

Of the 31 analysts who cover the stock, only 12 now recommend buying Tesla shares, while another 12 have a “sell” rating and the rest have “hold”.

“There is clearly a somewhat healthy level of demand, but maybe not as aggressive as what Tesla management would like. Maybe galloping growth, not blistering growth,” said Roth Capital analyst Craig Irwin.

Irwin rates the stock “buy”, with a price target of $238.

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shinjini Ganguli

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