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Why Tesla Stock Jumped Sharply on Thursday

By Daniel Sparks - Mar 19, 2020 at 10:33AM

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Even in the face of the coronavirus crisis, this analyst thinks the long-term thesis for Tesla stock remains intact.

What happened

Shares of electric-car maker Tesla (TSLA -0.32%) shot higher on Thursday. The stock rose as much as 20.4% but was up 11.6% as of 11:04 a.m. EDT.

The stock's gain was likely primarily driven by an analyst's decision to upgrade his rating of it.

Tesla vehicles outside of the company's factory in Fremont, California.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

So what

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note to investors on Thursday that Tesla stock's risk-reward profile is more favorable after a sharp decline in its share price amid the coronavirus sell-off. Jonas argues that helped by a well-timed capital raise earlier this year, the auto company has plenty of cash to get through the coronavirus crisis.

The analyst changed his rating on Tesla stock from underweight to equal weight. An underweight rating implies that there's a below-average chance of a stock performing as well as the overall market. An equal-weight rating implies that a stock is likely to perform in line with the market's overall return.

Along with his rating change for the stock, the analyst lowered his 12-month price target on shares from $480 to $460. But because of the stock's steep slide recently, this still represents significant upside from the stock's $405 price at the time of this writing.

Now what

Looking out beyond the coronavirus panic, Jonas importantly thinks there's no need for investors to adjust their long-term thesis for the stock.

It's unclear how much of a negative impact the coronavirus crisis will have on Tesla's sales in 2020. For now, the automaker has left its full-year outlook for deliveries unchanged. The company aims to grow sales from about 368,000 units in 2019 to more than 500,000 in 2020.

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