Analyst: Tesla’s Q1 one of the ‘top debacles’ in 20 years of tech

Esha Dey
Daniel Ives, Wedbush Securities Managing Director of Equity Research.

Tesla Inc.’s latest first quarter was “one of top debacles” ever seen in 20 years of covering tech stocks on the Street, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said on Thursday.

The analyst said the company’s guidance was aggressive and the management was not doing enough to cut costs, preserve capital and provide a sustained path to profitability. “Musk & Co. in an episode out of the The Twilight Zone’ act as if demand and profitability will magically return to the Tesla story,” Ives said.

He downgraded the stock to the equivalent of a hold from buy, and slashed his price target to $275 from $365. Ives is no stranger to tech debacles either, such as Apple Inc.’s profit warning in January that shaved $75 billion off the iPhone maker’s market cap in a single day and prompted Ives to cut his price target on Apple by more than a quarter.

Tesla shares dropped as much as 3.4 percent in New York Thursday after the company reported a much wider-than-expected quarterly loss, reiterated its production outlook for the year and hinted at the possibility of a capital raise post-market on Wednesday.

“At this point the writing is on the wall that Tesla will likely have to raise over $3 billion of capital in the near term to sustain its capex and debt needs given its current profitability path, which is another black cloud over the name with an inexperienced CFO now at the helm,” Ives wrote in a note to clients. “We continue to feel robotaxis, insurance products, and other endeavors are distractions from the growing demand woes that are not being addressed which is a critical worry of ours at this juncture.”

Rest of Wall Street wasn’t exactly jubilant either, with RBC’s Joseph Spak saying the results were “uglier than expected.” The company now has 15 analysts rating it a sell, compared to 12 with buy, and 9 with sell ratings.

Here’s a round up of the analyst commentary:

RBC Capital Markets, Joseph Spak


  • “First-quarter results uglier than expected. Full year delivery guidance maintained but big inflection needed which may prove optimistic.”
  • “Cash balance down to $2.2 billion and we believe the probability of a capital raise increased.”
  • Rates underperform, price target $200.


Cowen, Jeffrey Osborne


  • “Tesla appears to be entering into an era of uncertainty as a period of normalized demand approaches after enjoying the last 18 to 24 months of pent up demand for the Model 3 from the deposit list.”
  • “We see lower prices as largely indicative of a demand fishing expedition.”
  • “Even as Tesla reiterated guidance, we believe the company has some of the lowest forward looking visibility in recent memory.”
  • Rates underperform, price target $160.


Evercore ISI, Arndt Ellinghorst


  • “Tesla has just lost $700 million in a single quarter. Cutting prices whilst claiming exceptional demand for all products raises obvious questions and red flags concerning underlying demand.”
  • “The silver lining we’d point to was a change in tune, there’s merit to the idea of raising capital at this point.”’
  • Rates underperform, price target $240.


Jefferies, Philippe Houchois


  • “Beyond the headline miss and ongoing stress we saw enough positive surprises from auto gross margin resilience, cash earnings and gross liquidity to argue the shares have sufficiently re-priced.”
  • “Our Tesla call is hard to live with at times but we see value in Tesla’s EV/connectivity technology and experimentation (no matter the management style) and remain confident there is a path to sustained profitability.”
  • Rates buy, price target $400.


Piper Jaffray, Alexander Potter


  • “Although logistical challenges – along with lower transaction prices - had an obvious impact on first-quarter profitability, we think this was temporary.”
  • “Guidance implies a second-half recovery for both deliveries and margins, and this seems reasonable to us.”
  • “First-quarter suffered from a particularly nasty combination of headwinds, including seasonality, a big buildup of non-U.S. deliveries (negative for logistics costs and working capital), as well as the expiration of tax incentives in the United States.”
  • Rates overweight, price target $396.


Baird, Ben Kallo


  • “We do think Tesla should raise capital; while not essential, we believe it would be a positive catalyst and remove an overhang on the stock.”
  • “Demand will likely remain a focus for bears, though we share management’s constructive view.”
  • Rates outperform, price target $400.


Consumer Edge, Derek Glynn


  • “We think second-half results will be more indicative of underlying demand trends, but we view Tesla’s expectation for another loss in second quarter as a negative surprise.”
  • “Coupled with Elon’s commentary about there being merit’ to raising additional capital, we now think Tesla is perhaps not maturing as quickly into the self-sufficient and capital-efficient manufacturer we thought was possible just a few months ago.”
  • Rates equalweight, price target $310 from $350.