The Ratings Game: Tesla’s new $950 stock price target at Wedbush is the highest on Wall Street, but the analyst still won’t say buy

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Tesla Inc. got a another bullish endorsement Friday from Wedbush’s prolific analyst Dan Ives, who raised his stock price target by 33%, but he still won’t recommend investors buy the stock.

Ives said the “hearts and lungs” of investors’ bull thesis on Tesla TSLA, -2.93% has been centered on China, as consumer demand has skyrocketed into 2021, not just for Tesla’s Model 3s, but for electric vehicles from “impressive” domestic competitors such as Nio Inc. NIO, -7.62%, Li Auto Inc. LI, -5.76% and Xpeng Inc. XPEV, -6.14%

He said although competition is increasing, Tesla “remains top of the EV mountain.” And given the “robust” demand globally for EVs, Ives now expects Tesla to surpass the 1 million delivery threshold in 2022, and said deliveries could start to approach 5 million a year by the end of the decade.

“While there are 150+ auto makers aggressively going after the EV opportunity globally, right now in the EV market we believe it’s Tesla’s world and everyone else is paying rent,” Ives wrote in a note to clients.

He lifted his “base” price target for Tesla to $950, which is 12.4% above Thursday’s closing price, from $715. His target is now the highest of the 37 analysts surveyed by FactSet, and nearly double the average target of $498.66.

Tesla’s stock slumped 2.3% in afternoon trading, reversing an earlier gain of as much as 1.8% to an intraday high of $859.90. The stock was now trading 6.2% below the Jan. 8 record close of $880.02.

Joe Biden as president and a Democrat-controlled Congress should also provide a tailwind for the EV sector, Ives said. “A Blue Senate is very bullish and a potential ‘game changer’ for Tesla and the overall EV sector in the U.S., with a more green-driven agenda now certainly in the cards over the next few years,” he wrote.

Ives also raised his “bull case” price target by 25%, to $1,250 from $1,000.

Also read: Tesla stock tops $800 on ‘blue’ hopes, Wall Street upgrade.

However, he reiterated his neutral rating that he’s had on the Tesla since April 2019. For Wedbush, a neutral rating means the analysts expects the stock’s total return to perform in line with the medial total return of the analyst’s coverage universe. Ives is listed has Wedbush’s enterprise software analyst, and other companies he covers include Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.05%, Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, -1.19% and Zscaler Inc. ZS, +0.30%, which he rates outperform.

Tesla’s stock has rocketed 696.0% over the past 12 months, while shares of Apple have rallied 64.5%, Uber have advanced 61.8% and Zscaler have soared 253.9%. Over the same time, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.59% has gained 15.0%.

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