Why This Analyst Thinks Tesla's Q1 Deliveries Present 'Little To Write Home About'

Why This Analyst Thinks Tesla's Q1 Deliveries Present 'Little To Write Home About'

Tesla Inc TSLA shares gained 6% on Monday morning after the company reported first-quarter delivery numbers that exceeded Wall Street estimates, but one analyst said Tesla’s delivery number wasn’t anything for investors to get excited about.

The Analyst: Bank of America analyst John Murphy reiterated his Neutral rating and $900 price target for Tesla.

The Thesis: Last Friday, Tesla reported 184,800 vehicle deliveries in the first quarter, beating analyst estimates. Murphy said Tesla’s first-quarter delivery represented only a “very modest increase” from its fourth-quarter number of 180,667.

“And while this may have been dragged down by transitory dynamics like the next-generation Model S launch, we believe a burden of proof remains for the company (given its substantial market cap and valuation premium) in demonstrating that it can continue to drive accelerated growth,” Murphy wrote in a note.

He noted that 2% quarter-over-quarter delivery growth for a stock that is up 1,170% in the past two years is “little to write home about.”

While some analysts have said the drop in Tesla’s quarterly delivery growth was related to the global semiconductor shortage, Murphy said it appears downtime in Model S and Model X production related to model refreshes had more of an impact on Tesla’s numbers.

Tesla has guided for more than 750,000 vehicle deliveries in 2021 or about 187,500 average quarterly deliveries. Murphy said that guidance suggests investors can expect quarterly delivery growth to be modest throughout the rest of the year.

Looking ahead, Murphy said Tesla will soon start to face its first wave of true competition from incumbent auto companies like General Motors Company GM and Volkswagen A G VWAGY after essentially operating without major EV competition for the past decade.

Benzinga’s Take: There’s no question Tesla continues to put up impressive growth numbers quarter after quarter. The main criticisms of the stock at this point remain the company’s lack of profitability without relying on regulatory credit sales and its extremely high valuation at 118.1 times forward earnings and 20.1 times sales.

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