A year ago, Tesla Inc. seemed unbeatable, with its shares near a record high amid soaring optimism for the global electric-vehicle market. Now investors are struggling to see a bottom.
The stock was never for the faint of heart, given its volatility and the mercurial style of its CEO, Elon Musk. Still, the magnitude of this year’s rout is staggering: It has lost more than 60 percent through Tuesday’s close, on pace for a record annual decline, and erasing about $626 billion of shareholder value.
Two years after Tesla joined the S&P 500 Index, investors are confronting a new reality. Competition from established major automakers is intensifying, threatening Tesla’s dominant market share. Analysts also see little in the pipeline to reignite the sort of rabid demand for the shares seen back in 2020. Meanwhile, the stock is some 40 percent below the level at which it joined the benchmark.
“This whole narrative about Tesla being a leader in everything they do is waning,” said Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co. who has the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock. “Tesla shares tend to work best when you can create a feverish narrative about something coming. It is unclear what is to be excited about it in the new year.”
Software, battery tech delays
Tesla’s highly anticipated driving software and its battery technology are both falling short of their timelines, the analyst noted. Meanwhile, the futuristic design of its Cybertruck can make it a tough sell as a mainstream vehicle. Tesla didn’t reply to an emailed request for comment.
Analysts have been scrambling to reassess their outlook given the stock’s freefall, more modest earnings expectations and the overall reset in valuations of growth companies: Wall Street’s average price target for Tesla has now sunk to the lowest in more than a year.