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Tesla's Biggest Victory Yet (Update 1)

Tesla's incredible run this year (it's now a $14 billion market cap company) is fueled not only by the fervor for its cars, but surprise at the company's achievements. There was an epic short squeeze earlier in the year, as shorts cried in pain when Tesla announced it was profitable for the first time ever. Then, the company raised capital to take advantage of the high stock price, and the stock went even higher! It's been nothing short of an incredible run for Tesla in 2013, and this latest bit of news adds further credence to the story.

TSLA Chart TSLA data by YCharts

Demand has been so high for the Model S that the company raised global deliveries guidance on its last earnings report. It now expects to deliver 21,000 vehicles this year, up from a prior goal of 20,000 cars.

Not only are Tesla fans showing interest in the product, but so is the general public. Consumer Reports gave the Model S a near-perfect score of 99, citing the car's power, handling, and interior.

Analysts are falling over themselves to raise price targets on Tesla. One analyst went so far as to call Tesla America's fourth automaker, behind Ford Motors (F), General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. The hype surrounding this company is approaching, and in some cases, has surpassed Apple (AAPL) levels. Judging by the results, it's clearly warranted.

Not everyone believes the hype, though. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst John Lovallo, who rates shares "underperform" with a $39 price objective, believes the optimism surrounding the company might be unwarranted. "[W]e estimate that a $120 share price implies over 321K vehicle sales in 2020, which is a full 300K units higher than our current 2013e and would represent a 7-year CAGR of 48%," Lovallo wrote in the note. Current estimates imply Tesla would be able to achieve EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margins of 12.5% in 2020, nearly 380 basis points more than its closest competitors, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Bentley, and Porsche, generated in 2012, and more than 400 basis points better than the group is expected to generate in 2015. "While nothing is impossible, particularly with Elon Musk at the helm, we believe these assumptions warrant a healthy degree of skepticism," Lovallo wrote.

Tesla's story has come an incredibly long way over the past seven months. It's raised 2013 guidance based of demand. Musk has seemingly become the next Steve Jobs, with his ability to cater to fan boys, investors and the media alike. Lastly, the company is taking the world by storm, and revolutionizing the automobile market faster than Henry Ford when he came up with the assembly line.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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