The Wall Street investment bank broke its silence on the Tesla fiasco on Tuesday by reinstating a “sell” rating on the stock and issuing a $210 price target. The bank’s biggest concerns were Tesla’s (TSLA) debt-riddled balance sheet and what it called ‘intensifying competition’, which may erode its lead in the electric vehicle race.
Musk tweeted on August 7 that he had “funding secured” for a deal valued at $420 a share—a claim that sparked an SEC investigation reportedly. After facing what Musk described as a shareholder revolt, the famed billionaire CEO abandoned the go-private plan on August 25.
Musk’s tweet initially sent Tesla shares spiking to as high as $389.61 on August 7. Since then, Tesla shares have lost a quarter of their value. Goldman Sachs predicts they’ll tumble another 30% over the next six months.
A team of Goldman Sachs analysts, led by David Tamberrino wrote to clients, that they remained bearish on Tesla’s ability to execute, ramp up vehicle production and generate free cash flow.
The firm did not address the controversy around Musk’s erratic behavior. Instead, it focused on the bevy of electric cars being launched by rivals, from Ford (F) and Jaguar to Porsche and Nissan (NSANF).
Although Tesla’s Model Y isn’t isn’t expected to launch until 2020, Goldman Sachs has stated that the company faces a “large crescendo” of competition in the coming years. Namely from Daimler’s (DMLRY) Mercedes- Bens’s first all-electric SUV, along with rival luxury manufacturers BMW and Audi.
Another obstacle for Tesla would be the rising costs of its cars. A tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles is set to expire for Tesla at the end of the year. The full tax credit is gradually phased out after a company sells it’s 200,000th electric car in the US. This is a milestone Tesla passed in July.
“We believe the higher price point buyers for the Model 3 could be exhausted for Tesla by year-end,” Goldman Sachs wrote.
It wasn’t just Goldman Sachs who had predicted tough times for Tesla. Last week, Cowen & Co. warned that Tesla faces “mounting obstacles,” including shareholder lawsuits and scrutiny from regulators. Unlike Goldman Sachs however, Cowen analyst Jeffery Osborne had been upfront in criticising Musk’s behaviour on social media.
“The tweeting fiasco is likely to draw investor scrutiny on whether Elon’s behavior, management style, and operational ability are enough to take Tesla to the next level.” He stated.
Tesla’s otherwise famed and prolific production capacity has also raised doubts.
Tesla is sitting on a net debt of $9.2bn over the past year. Goldman Sachs noted it as being “concerning” for an auto company. The firm noted that about $7.5bn of Tesla’s debt is coming due by 2022. Musk has insisted that Tesla won’t need to raise more cash by selling shares or raising debt, despite the skepticism on wall street.
Cowen stated that Tesla will raise $2bn this quarter, but warned it “may prove a challenge” if the company is under investigation.