Tesla shares spike after company posts record quarterly deliveries, gets analyst upgrade

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) jumped more than 7% in early trading Monday morning after the electric-vehicle maker posted record quarterly deliveries between January and March, topping Wall Street’s expectations and prompting at least one firm to upgrade the stock.

The company delivered 184,800 vehicles in the first quarter, Tesla announced on Friday. This more than doubled last year’s 88,400 first-quarter deliveries, and exceeded its prior quarterly record of 180,570 hand-overs from the fourth quarter of 2020. The stock market was closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday, leaving traders several days to digest the results.

Deliveries of Tesla’s more affordable Model 3 and Model Y vehicles comprised the vast majority of the overall first-quarter tally, with these combined coming in at 182,780. Tesla produces both models at its Shanghai Gigafactory, which began making deliveries just over a year ago. By contrast, Tesla handed over 2,020 of its more expensive Model S and X vehicles in the first three months of this year. 

“We are encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity,” Tesla said in a statement. 

Production also grew strongly in the first three months of the year, increasing to 180,338 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles combined. This came even as automakers across the industry contended with a months-long global chip shortage, and as coronavirus-related disruption continued to weigh on supply chains globally.  

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives upgraded the stock to Outperform from Neutral in the wake of the company’s delivery figures and added it to the firm’s “best ideas” list. Ives also raised the company’s price target to $1,000 from $950, with a $1,300 target in a best-case, longer-term scenario. Tesla shares closed Thursday’s session at $661.75. 

“In our opinion the 1Q delivery numbers released on Friday was a paradigm changer and shows that the pent-up demand globally for Tesla’s Model 3/Y is hitting its next stage of growth as part of a global green tidal wave underway,” Ives wrote in a note Sunday. “We now believe Tesla could exceed 850k deliveries for the year with 900k a stretch goal, despite the chip shortage and various supply chain issues lingering across the auto sector.”

The company logo is pictured on a Tesla Model X electric vehicle in this picture illustration taken in Moscow, Russia July 23, 2020. Picture taken July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

The company logo is pictured on a Tesla Model X electric vehicle in this picture illustration taken in Moscow, Russia July 23, 2020. Picture taken July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Tesla delivered just under 500,000 vehicles in 2020. 

While “robust” demand out of China and Europe were likely behind the first-quarter deliveries beat, a “green tidal wave” in the U.S. is likely to stoke further domestic demand as well, Ives noted. President Joe Biden’s more than $2 trillion infrastructure plan included a range of policies that would boost clean energy investment, and benefit companies like Tesla in this arena. 

“A dynamic we believe is significantly underestimated by the Street is the current EV tax credit situation manifesting domestically in the U.S.,” Ives explained. “With Tesla (as well as GM) hitting its 200,000 unit tax ceiling, there has been a price disadvantage vs. competitors within the U.S. not being able to utilize the $7,500 EV tax credits.” 

“We believe this dynamic is about to change in a big way for Tesla as we expect Congress to ultimately remove the ceiling on the EV tax credits as part of the broader $2.3 trillion Biden Infrastructure Plan and also moving this potentially to a ~$10,000 credit to catalyze EV consumer demand,” he said. 

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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