Tesla shares on the upswing as pieces fall into place

Tesla Motors shares are on the move, and poised to jump even higher on a flurry of recent developments.

Tesla stock is up more than 34 percent since early March, and gained almost 3 percent Monday (to about $256 a share) in advance of today’s annual shareholders meeting. At that meeting, CEO and co-founder Elon Musk is expected to give details on the rollout of the Model X SUV later this year, including perhaps a launch date and the number of pre-orders.

On Monday, Baird research analysts raised Tesla’s target price from $275 to $335, largely on optimism of a successful launch of the Model X. “We think upcoming events will help improve sentiment and drive shares higher,” the Baird analysts said.

Among those upcoming events:

• The Palo Alto company is in line to get $15 million in new California tax breaks, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. The California Competes tax credits would be for creating more than 4,500 jobs in the state.

• Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada is expected to open early next year, and Reuters reports lithium-ion battery partner Panasonic will send hundreds of employees to the site this fall to prepare for production. Tesla sees the Gigafactory as critical to mass production of batteries for its vehicles as well as battery-storage units.

• Speaking of battery storage, Tesla sees it as a largely untapped market it can dominate in the coming decade. At an energy conference Monday, Musk wooed utility companies, saying Tesla’s new home battery-storage systems should be seen not as competition to utilities, but as ways to supplement large-scale utility and industrial grids. Deals with utility companies could prove lucrative; Musk said he envisions 80 to 90 percent of Tesla’s storage sales to be to industrial clients, helping maintain power as energy use is expected to triple in the coming decades.

• Tesla’s Model 3 is expected to hit the market in late 2017. Tesla anticipates the more affordable ($35,000) electric sedan will have mass appeal, helping the company reach a forecasted 500,000 car sales a year by 2020.

Expect more details on Tesla’s ambitious plans later in the day. The company shareholder’s meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Click here to watch the livestream.


At top: A prototype Model X, seen at Tesla’s Palo Alto showroom on Oct. 12, 2013. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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