Tesla’s deepening stock rout obliterates half of meteoric 2020 rise

Tesla’s deepening stock rout obliterates half of meteoric 2020 rise

Reporters and guests surround the Tesla Model Y during Thailand Tesla’s official launch event in Bangkok earlier this month. (Reuters)

 

The tailspin in Tesla shares accelerated Tuesday as a report of a plan to temporarily halt production at its China factory rekindled fears about demand risks and put the stock on pace for its longest losing streak since 2018.

Shares of the Elon Musk-led company fell about 8% to $113.13, for a seventh straight day of declines. The electric-vehicle maker’s market valuation has shrunk to roughly $372 billion, below that of Walmart and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The latest selloff will cost Tesla its position among the 10-highest valued companies in the S&P 500 Index, a distinction it has held since joining the benchmark in December 2020.

News of reduced production in Shanghai comes on the heels of last week’s report that Tesla was offering U.S. consumers a $7,500 discount to take delivery of its two highest-volume models before year-end, combining to intensify concerns that demand is ebbing. For Tesla, whose valuation is pinned on its future growth prospects, these worries reflect a significant risk.

“Most of the stock’s weakness this year is due to indicators showing flagging demand globally,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital Partners. Tesla’s estimated revenue growth “is still amazing, but not $385 billion market valuation-type amazing,” he said, referring to the value at the end of last week.

Analysts on average expect revenue to grow 54% in 2022 and 37% in 2023, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The hope that Tesla will be the leading EV company in a future dominated by electric cars drove a spectacular eight-fold rally in the shares in 2020, earning its place in the S&P 500 and at one point making it the fifth-most valuable stock in the gauge. 

But this year the unwinding has come equally fast. It has lost about two-thirds of its value amid Musk’s Twitter takeover and related distractions, investor jitters about growth assets and most recently, worries that high inflation and rising interest rates will dampen consumers’ enthusiasm for EVs.

Wall Street analysts have started flagging warnings about EV demand, with the average 12-month price target for Tesla falling 10% just this month. Meanwhile, the average adjusted earnings estimate for 2022 has declined over 4% from just three months ago. 

Still, analysts’ overall stance on Tesla remains bullish, with the highest share of buy or equivalent ratings since early 2015. 

“Despite the stock’s performance, Tesla’s innovation curve appears to be accelerating, a stark contrast to other large tech companies whose incremental product updates appear stagnant at best,” Canaccord Genuity analyst George Gianarikas wrote in a note last week. He added that “green shoots” of recovery may appear in 2023.