What happened

Shares of Tesla (TSLA -2.44%) rose 32.5% in July, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The stock climbed thanks to momentum for the broader market, favorable analyst coverage, and a fourth-quarter earnings beat. 

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts

The stock may also be benefiting from expectations that the company will be added to the S&P 500 index, which could boost the stock price thanks to shares being included in popular index-tracking funds. Tesla has climbed nearly 250% year to date, making the company one of the year's best large-cap performers and by far the largest auto manufacturer in the world. 

Tesla's Model Y SUV.

Image source: Tesla.

So what

Tesla reported fourth-quarter results on July 22, posting results that came in significantly ahead of the market's expectations. The electric-vehicle company delivered sales of $6.04 billion and earnings per share of $0.50, while the average analyst estimate had called for a loss of $0.82 per share on $5.15 billion. However, a J.P. Morgan analyst noted that 87% of the company's operating income beat in the quarter stemmed from higher-than-expected regulatory credit sales and that this source of income couldn't necessarily be counted on in the future.

Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch then published a note on the stock on July 23, maintaining an "outperform" rating on the company and raising his one-year price target on the stock from $968 per share to $2,209. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives published a note on Tesla the same day, raising the firm's price target from $1,250 to $1,800 and establishing an upper-level target on the company's stock of $2,500.

Tesla now has a market capitalization of roughly $271 billion. For comparison, Ford is valued at $27 billion and General Motors at roughly the same. 

Now what

Tesla's stock has continued to climb early in August's trading. The company's share price is up roughly 1.5% in the month so far. 

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts

Tesla's valuation remains highly controversial, with some analysts citing the company's transformative potential in the auto and energy markets as reasons the stock can climb higher, while more bearish takes on the company cite the fact that it has only recorded its first year of being profitable on GAAP basis and that its sales are significantly smaller than those of its rivals, including Ford and GM. 

Tesla is scheduled to host a presentation displaying its new battery technology on Sept. 15, an event that's sure to attract lots of attention and coverage from analysts and investors. The company is valued at roughly 160 times this year's expected earnings and 9 times expected sales.