Tesla (TSLA) stock gets upgraded to “Outperform” at RBC Capital Markets

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) may be feeling some pressure on Monday’s intraday, but the electric vehicle maker actually received a rather optimistic outlook from RBC Capital Markets. In recent comments, analyst Joseph Spak raised his rating for Tesla from “Perform” to “Outperform,” though he lowered his price target from $1,175 to $1,100 per share.

It’s not only Tesla that is seeing some pressure today. The broader markets also seem poised to fall sharply over fears related to inflation and the possibility of a recession. Tesla stock, for its part, has declined over 30% this year amid Covid-19-related challenges in China and Elon Musk’s efforts to acquire social media platform Twitter.

According to RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak, however, Tesla’s second-quarter margins could surprise as investors are already primed for lower delivery figures. So far, analysts polled by Factset are expecting Tesla to deliver about 287,000 vehicles in Q2 2022. That’s quite a bit lower than the company’s results in the first quarter, when Tesla delivered over 310,000 vehicles from January to March 2022.

The following are Spak’s comments:

“Near-term set-up seems favorable. Visible Alpha 2Q22 consensus delivery forecast is 279k units, though we believe the buyside expects a ~250k print effectively in line with our new 249k forecast. With investors primed for lower deliveries, we believe 2Q22 margins can surprise to upside.

“1Q22 auto GM ex-credits was 30% and walking q/q lower volume, higher depreciation weigh, but pricing can offset (see our walk inside). We forecast 2Q22 auto GM ex-credits at ~28.6%. Visible Alpha consensus 2Q22 auto gross margins ex-credits is 26.4%, but that is also built on that 279k unit forecast which is likely to come down.”

“So we see the potential for low margin expectations and hence a margin beat. Looking ahead, we are positive as well. For 3Q22, RBC i s at 396k deliveries vs. consensus at 378k, and we see 2H22 auto gross margins >30% as Shanghai gets back to pace, Berlin and Texas ramp, and pricing gains continue,” the analyst noted.

RBC credited Tesla’s efforts to secure critical materials that it would need to ramp its operations to a significant scale. The firm also cited Elon Musk’s Master Plan Part 3, which seems focused on scaling Tesla to such a degree that it could have a notable effect on the world as a whole.

“(Tesla’s) early focus on vertical integration (not just batteries/raw materials but also motors, semis, software) is likely to pay off especially as industry supply of critical materials may become an issue in 2027/28 and TSLA may be able to control more of their own destiny.

“Indeed, it appears Elon’s Master Plan Part 3 is likely to focus on achieving very large scale to shift the transportation/energy infrastructure. TSLA earnings and cash generation over the coming years, in addition to their ability to use their stock as currency, can help them build out and secure materials giving them a strong competitive advantage,” RBC noted.

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