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The market reacted very positively to Tesla Motors' (Nasdaq: TSLA ) loss, which can be described not quite as bad as Wall Street expected. But there is still a lot of optimism priced into the stock, with a lot of dominos that have to fall just right to reach Tesla's lofty goals.
So why do I think the market has gotten ahead of itself? Here are the three biggest reasons why you should sell Tesla today.
Tesla is projecting its next vehicle the Model S to be available in mid-2012. There are high hopes for this model because it is a lower cost four-door sedan that will reach a wider audience. But product launches almost never go as planned. A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE ) was crushed this week based largely on electric vehicle competitors delaying production. Competitor Fisker has delayed the Karma's debut, and Tesla's own Roadster was also delayed nearly a year because of a variety of issues. There isn't much you can count on in new product development, but a delayed launch is one thing I will bet on any day.
Tesla has been operating with virtually no competition to this point, but that's about to change. GM's Chevy Volt is hitting showrooms, Nissan's Leaf will be available next month, and the list goes on and on.
Tesla has arguably the most compelling vehicles in the electric car business. A relatively small number of initial buyers, however, will be spread over a growing number of manufacturers.
Tesla is worth $2.7 billion and recently reported a quarterly loss of $34.9 million. The company isn't even expecting to report a profit until at least 2012, so there is a long wait for profitability.
A quick back of the napkin calculation shows just how far Tesla has to go. If we average Ford's (NYSE: F ) 8.6 price-to-earnings ratio and Toyota's (NYSE: TM ) 21.4 P/E ratio we get a pretty reasonable P/E of 15 to apply to Tesla.
To live up to a $2.7 billion market cap with a 15 P/E ratio, the company will eventually have to earn $180 million each year (before discounting). Tesla will barely reach half of that in revenue this year, so we're assuming a lot of growth and some pretty high margins on vehicles.
I hope Tesla is a wild success as a car company. I would love to own the stock, but I think investors are looking at this company through rose colored glasses right now. Leave your thoughts about Tesla in the comments section below.
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