Investment banks think Tesla may deliver less cars this year than expected

Cowen, the investment bank, believes that electric-car giant Tesla could deliver less cars this year than the lower end of its guidance range and affect share prices. In a note to customers Monday, Cowen said Tesla’s fourth-quarter sales would be between 95,000 and 101,000 vehicles. That puts shipments this year at about 356,000 units, below the company’s estimate of 360,000 to 400,000.

Investment banks think Tesla may deliver less cars this year than expected

Cowen’s announcement comes at a time when Tesla’s first Shanghai-made Model 3 delivery comes as China sees it as a huge growth opportunity for Tesla, whose U.S.-based electric-vehicle company began delivering cars from its new plant less than a year after ground-breaking construction in its Shanghai plant.

Cowen rated Tesla as less than the market and raised its target price to $210 a share from $190 a share, citing growing demand in China and the Netherlands. Even so, the target price is 51 percent below Tesla’s closing price on Friday.

However, excluding the two countries, Tesla’s demand fell 7 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, cowen said, a trend that means Tesla is saturated with most of the market demand, which is shifting from pent-up demand to stable liquidity.

If Tesla doesn’t cut production costs on its cheaper Model 3 model, the company’s profit margins could also be affected because of its larger share of sales, the report said.

Tesla’s share price has been rising recently, rising more than 30 percent since early December. The stock hit an all-time high last week.

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