April 26, 2019 / 4:45 PM / 5 months ago

Ending tough week, Tesla shares sink to lowest in two years

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tesla Inc’s stock price slumped 5% on Friday to its lowest in two years, rounding out a rough week that included worse-than-expected quarterly results and a pitch by Chief Executive Elon Musk on autonomous cars that failed to win over investors.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Tesla is seen in Taipei, Taiwan August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

With investors betting Tesla will soon raise capital, the stock fell 14% for the week to its lowest since January 2017, before the launch of the Model 3 sedan aimed at making the electric car maker profitable.

It was the worst weekly drop for Tesla since August last year, when Musk told the New York Times in a tearful interview that he was under major emotional stress.

In the options market, Tesla contracts changed hands at twice the usual pace, with sentiment leaning toward defensive bets, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.

Tesla’s $1.8 billion junk bond sank half a cent to yield 8.42%, more than 3 percentage points above the bond’s coupon rate of 5.3%. Its spread, or the premium investors demand for the added risk of holding Tesla debt rather than a safer U.S. Treasury security, widened by about 15 basis points to a near-record 611 basis points.

One positive development for Tesla: a U.S. District Court judge on Friday granted a request by Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission for a second extension to resolve a dispute over Musk’s use of Twitter.

On Wednesday, Tesla posted a worse-than-expected loss of $702 million for the March quarter. Musk said Tesla would return to profit in the third quarter and that there was “some merit” to raising capital.

(Graphic: Tesla's cash link: tmsnrt.rs/2DyJjX6).

Musk is still battling to convince investors that demand for the Model 3, the company’s first car aimed at the mass consumer market, is “insanely” high, and that it can be delivered efficiently to customers around the world.

Tesla ended its first quarter with $2.2 billion in cash, down from $3.7 billion in the prior quarter, and the company is planning expansions including a Shanghai factory, an upcoming Model Y SUV, and other projects.

On Monday, Musk hosted a self-driving vehicle presentation, where he predicted Tesla would have over a million autonomous vehicles by next year. Some analysts perceived the presentation as a way to deflect attention from questions about demand, margin pressure, increasing competition and even Musk’s ongoing battle with U.S. regulators.

Tesla’s stock has now fallen 29 percent in 2019 and the company’s market capitalization has declined to $41 billion from $63 billion in mid-December.

After overtaking the market capitalizations of General Motors Co and Ford Motor in 2017, Tesla slipped back below GM in January, and on Friday it dipped back below the market value of Ford, which saw its stock surge 10% after reporting a better-than-expected quarter.

(Graphic: Tesla's declining market cap link: tmsnrt.rs/2Dwd62r).

Tesla’s stock has fallen below the level of its most recent capital raises.

(Graphic: Tesla's capital raises link: tmsnrt.rs/2DAsQS2).

Analysts now expect Tesla’s revenue to expand 19% in 2019, compared with 83% growth in 2018 and 68% growth in 2017, according to Refinitiv.

Following Tesla’s quarterly report, 12 analysts recommend selling the stock, while 11 recommend buying and eight are neutral. The median analyst price target is $275, up 17% from the stock’s current price. Berenberg analyst Alexander Haissl has the most optimistic price target, at $500, while Cowen and Company’s Jeffrey Osborne has the lowest, at $160, according to Refinitiv.

Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, additional reporting by Saqib Ahmed in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish

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