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Tesla Drops on Downgrade (Update 1)

Updated from 8:43 a.m. EST to provide additional analyst comments in the sixth and seventh paragraphs.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tesla Motors (TSLA) shares fell 2.87% to $148.61 after Lazard Capital Markets downgraded shares to "neutral," saying the risk-reward is now less compelling than it once was.

Analyst Aditya Satghare believes shares could fall as low as $100, as the company's share price fully captures Tesla becoming one of the most profitable auto makers. "While the high-growth nature of the company or stock momentum could take shares higher, downside could be meaningful in the event of any potential execution issues," Satghare wrote in his note.

Tesla has come a long way this year, having recorded its first profitable quarters in the company's 10-year history, but the share price already largely reflects that, according to Satghare. Along with becoming a successful premium manufacturer comparable to BMW, Mercedes and the like, Satghare believes there is limited upside over the next 12 months, despite the company's "almost flawless execution in light of management's track record to date."

Tesla has been the beneficiary of incredible demand for its Model S, as it delivered 5,150 units in its most recent quarter, generating $405 million in sales. However, the company only earned 5 cents per share, and on a non-GAAP basis.

Much of the recent run in share price is due to the third-generation model, which CEO Elon Musk has said will be priced around $35,000. That car isn't due for a few more years, as Tesla works on continuing to improve supply of the Model S. Then, the Model X, Tesla's SUV vehicle, is scheduled to start gaining more attention from executives, as the vehicle comes on line in late 2014.

Like technology companies such as Apple (AAPL) or Google (GOOG) that refresh products every year, or other auto manufacturers such as Ford Motors (F) and General Motors (GM), Satghare believes Tesla will refresh its product line up, ultimately getting at least 10 models of vehicles by the end of the decade. He expects the Model S to be refreshed in 2016, with a new model introduced in 2018. He speculates that a coupe version and a grand touring type version of the Model S are possible as well.

The Model X, which Musk has previously stated will be launched in late 2014, will see a refresh in 2017, and the third-gen vehicle will launch in 2016 or 2017, and be refreshed in 2020.

While additional upside from here is possible (he believes shares could reach $175), Satghare notes that would take a lot from Tesla, something he's not quite sure is ready to happen. "Meaningful upside from current levels will require domestic manufacturing in China and record sales of Gen 3 on launch. Execution risk is meaningfully higher in this scenario, and we expect limited clarity on this until the 2016/2017 timeframe."

At current levels, Satghare believes shares are pricing in not only the success of the Model S, but the Model X and on-time delivery and success of the third-gen car, with annual volumes of 150,000 units by the end of the decade.

TSLA ChartTSLA data by YCharts

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

>Contact by Email.

Stock quotes in this article: TSLA 

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