Tesla Upgrade Cites China Backlog, Downgrade Points to Closed Plant and Coronavirus

A UBS analyst upgrades the electric-vehicle producer, citing an order backlog in China. A Citigroup analyst cuts his rating, citing a closed plant and the coronavirus.
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Shares of Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report rose, in line with the overall market, as analysts issued mixed opinions for the country’s No. 1 producer of electric cars.

UBS analyst Patrick Hummel raised his rating to neutral from sell and his share-price target to $420 from $410.

The backlog of orders for the Model Y crossover and Model 3 sedan in China points to strong demand, he wrote in a report, according to Bloomberg. 

That backlog appears to total six to nine months for the Model Y and two months for the Model 3, he said.

If Tesla needs to issue more stock to finance its huge debt burden, it could likely do so at a lower price than its auto brethren, Hummel said.

Citigroup analyst Itay Michaeli slashed his price target on Tesla to $246 from $312 and  affirmed his sell rating.

He sees an even stronger bearish scenario now. "These new probabilities reflect our view that while Tesla's balance sheet should be able to withstand a highly disruptive second quarter, the risk of an extended shutdown at Fremont, California, could put significant pressure on the balance sheet,” he wrote in a commentary, MarketWatch reports.

The company on March 19 said it would close the San Francisco Bay Area plant, under pressure from the government and its own workers.

The coronavirus is an issue, too. Areas that have been hardest hit by the pandemic are "significant [electric auto] sales contributors," which "calls into question the pace of demand even if Fremont were to restart production," Michaeli said.

Tesla shares at last check stood at $465.01, up 7.1%. The stock has soared 62% over the past year.