A prominent critic of Tesla Motors (TSLA) thinks the automaker may have too much on its plate now that it's closed its controversial merger with SolarCity.
Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch said in a research note circulated to investors Monday that Elon Musk's most prominent foray into the public markets will track the success of its Model 3 production schedule-- which could be subject to delays.
Skeptics of the deal have worried that SolarCity's debt load would weigh down Tesla, which is already busy enough with its efforts to ramp up production of its new Model 3 electric car for a 2017 release. Musk is CEO of Tesla and was chairman of SolarCity. The $2 billion deal closed last Monday.
The acquisition of SolarCity now means that Tesla must finish construction of the solar company's 1.2 million square foot facility in Buffalo, N.Y., which is scheduled to open in 2017. Tesla is also ramping up construction at its 'Gigafactory' battery production facility near Sparks, Nev.
"We believe the company has its hands full and would not be surprised by delays [in Model 3 production] given the magnitude of the company's agenda," Rusch wrote.
Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X SUV currently in production are priced like luxury vehicles. The Model 3 will be Tesla's first big stab at making a mass-market electric car. Musk has said that the Model 3's price will begin at $35,000.
Rusch expects Tesla to lose 15 cents per share on $9 billion in revenue in the 2017 fiscal year, according to the note. As recently as mid-October, he warned that Tesla may need to raise as much as $12.5 billion in capex through 2018 if it pulled off the SolarCity merger.