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Tesla (TSLA) Gains on Jersey 15-Day Extension

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tesla (TSLA) will be allowed at least 15 more days to sell its electric cars directly to the New Jersey public, giving it a touch more breathing room to negotiate with dealership organizations.

The state had previously enforced a ban starting April 1.

Earlier in the month, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission passed a rule change which would prohibit auto manufacturers from direct selling, the line of thinking being that consumers wouldn't benefit from competitive pricing and other protections offered by third-party dealers. Texas and Arizona currently have similar bans in place.

Tesla had previously been in negotiations with Governor Chris Christie's administration for the company to bypass the traditional car dealership route (that is, carmakers selling models through a third-party dealer). The company's business model had previously been under attack from the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers' (NJ CAR), according to Tesla.

In a blog post earlier in the month, the company defended its business model, writing, "This model is not just a matter of selling more cars and providing optimum consumer choice for Americans, but it is also about educating consumers about the benefits of going electric, which is central to our mission to accelerate the shift to sustainable transportation, a new paradigm in automotive technology."

Two proposed pieces of legislation could be the saving grace for Tesla's threatened selling method. The first is proposed legislation in the senate from Democratic Sen. Raymond Lesniak which would allow direct sales of "zero-emission vehicles" until they make up around 4% of total car sales. As CNN notes, however, this is unlikely to come to pass until 2018 at the earliest.

A second bill, this one from Democratic leadership member Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, would see electric car manufacturers permanently excused from the ban. The bill proposed is still in its early stages.

Separately, an investigation into the safety of Tesla's Model S after a series of unexplained fire has been closed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

By midday Friday, shares had gained 3.4% to $214.28. 

Must Read: Warren Buffett's 10 Favorite Stocks

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TheStreet Ratings team rates TESLA MOTORS INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate TESLA MOTORS INC (TSLA) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's profit margins have been poor overall."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • TSLA's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 3.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 100.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.91, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.33, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Automobiles industry and the overall market, TESLA MOTORS INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for TESLA MOTORS INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 31.56%. Despite the low profit margin, it has increased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, TSLA's net profit margin of -2.64% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: TSLA Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

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