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May 23, 2019

Tesla falls again as Munster sees sales goal risk on China

Bearish calls on Tesla ramp up

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Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) dropped 4.4 per cent in U.S. pre-market trading as analysts at Loup Ventures and Morgan Stanley gave increasingly bearish commentary on the U.S. electric-car maker.

Loup Ventures co-founder Gene Munster wrote in a note that Tesla will probably miss its 2019 delivery target range as sales shrink in China amid a trade war between the two countries. The analyst cut his estimate for Tesla’s full-year global car sales by about 10 per cent to 310,000 vehicles, versus the minimum 360,000-unit target the manufacturer set in March. The shares are poised for their seventh day of losses and are down 27 per cent over the past month.

“We are lowering our numbers as a precautionary measure related to two unknowns,” including China’s probable imposition of tariffs on Tesla car imports as well as other impediments such as new regulations on sales or a potential consumer boycott of U.S. goods, Munster said. Loup’s pessimism on the import fees is a “minority view,” discounting most investors’ expectation that Tesla will remain exempt because of its investment in a Chinese battery factory, he said.

Compounding woes for the company, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who earlier this week said that Tesla stock could plunge to as low as US$10 in a worst-case scenario, held a private call with investors Wednesday in which he said the company is “seen more as a distressed credit and restructuring story.”

Tesla is likely to survive as the worldwide electric-vehicle market surges, Loup’s Munster said. Recent fund-raising gives the manufacturer a two-year cash cushion as long as deliveries exceed 300,000 a year through 2020, though the protective timeframe narrows if vehicle sales fall below that level, he said.