Tesla stock reaches new record high after bullish analyst report

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, second from right, at the company's initial public stock offering in 2010. The shares hit a new record high today. Photo credit: Reuters
UPDATED: 9/2/14 4:19 pm ET - adds closing price

LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc. shares rose to another record high after a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. report cited the electric-car maker’s increasing production and said it may be worth $400 a share even before it starts making a lower-priced model.

Tesla surged 5.3 percent to close at $284.05 today. Earlier, the company led by Elon Musk saw its shares trade at $284.89, the highest since the carmaker’s initial public offering in June 2010. The stock had previously closed at a record on Aug. 29, the most recent trading day.

The company “appears to have carved out a defensible niche in the global market for luxury electric vehicles, and based on our recent tour of the Fremont, CA, facility, a sizable head start with respect to production,” James Albertine, an equity analyst with Stifel, wrote in a note to investors on Sept. 1. Tesla is “on track (if not ahead of plan) to achieving a 1,000 unit per week production rate by year-end 2014,” said Albertine, who upgraded his rating on Tesla to buy from hold, with a target price of $400.

Shares of the youngest publicly traded U.S. automaker have been on a rapid ascent of late, soaring 79 percent this year through August. The carmaker named for inventor Nikola Tesla is increasing sales of premium Model S sedans, priced from $71,000 in the U.S., to China and preparing to start deliveries in Japan. The company also plans to add the Model X electric

SUV in 2015 and the Model 3, a smaller, more affordable premium sedan by 2017.