By Chloe Aiello
In five to seven years, Tesla will be valued as a diversified "technology titan" rather than just as an automaker, Wedbush's Dan Ives told Cheddar on Monday.
Wedbush rated Tesla ($TSLA) "outperform" and raised its 12-month price target on the company to $440 last week. Tesla shares jumped Thursday following the report.
"I think it's a disruptive technology player, which is really our perspective and how we view Tesla. And that's why in our opinion it's similar to how we viewed Apple ($AAPL) going back to '07 with iPhones ー revolutionizing smartphones," Ives said.
Wedbush analysts Ives and Strecker Backe attributed their bullishness to Model 3 production volume and profitability turning a corner. But Tesla's long-term viability has more to do with its potential to become a more diversified "technology titan."
"Overall, seeing the forest through the trees, we believe Tesla has the most innovative product roadmap in the technology space over the next five to 10 years," Ives and Strecker wrote in their note. "Its flagship Model 3 [is] poised to catalyze a broader move to electronic vehicles, renewable energy, and eventually broader ambitions for Musk and Tesla that will lead to further innovations around battery production and self-driving cars looking out into 2020 and beyond."
Of course, with controversial CEO Elon Musk at the helm of the company, the path forward will be a "bumpy road and never a smooth straight line," Ives wrote. But Ives said he doesn't consider Musk to be the greatest risk to the company. Rather, Ives said the biggest risk derives from Model 3 production.
"Biggest risk is around production, specifically on Model 3. I think any bottleneck coming out of Freemont or Giga[factory], or any sort of major hiccup in terms of China, in terms of building Giga3, in terms of demand ー I think China's going to be key," Ives said.
Tesla needs to maintain those numbers because it has a big opportunity to revolutionize on the consumer demand for cars in the mid-range with the Model 3. It's especially important considering it faces such stiff competition on electric vehicles from high-end automakers, like Mercedez, Jaguar, and Audi.
Wedbush is just the latest Wall Street firm to upgrade its target on Tesla. Analysts from Jefferies and CFRA also upgraded the car maker earlier in the month, sparking a positive reaction from the shares.
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