EV maker Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) had a tumultuous 2022, falling nearly 65%, but the stock has recovered as of late. The price cuts on its top-selling models at the start of the month have boosted sales, driving investors’ interest back into the stock. Given its revenue growth prospects and relatively low share price, I am bullish on the stock at current levels.
Interestingly, TSLA stock has a very positive signal from hedge fund managers, who added 1.1 million shares during the last quarter. In fact, well-known investor Catherine Wood, CEO of Ark Investment Management, recently bought TSLA stock. On January 13, Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF reported a purchase of 168,989 shares of Tesla worth $20.7 million.
On January 6, Tesla announced price cuts in the range of 6% to 13.5% for all variants of its Model 3 and Model Y cars in China. On top of that, last week, the EV maker took its bold steps further by slashing its prices in major markets like the U.S. — by around 20% — and Europe.
As intended by the company, the price cuts massively boosted the sales of Tesla vehicles. According to a China Merchants Bank International (CMBI) study, average daily sales for Tesla in China during the period between Jan 9-15 soared 76% year-over-year to 12,654 vehicles. Compared on a weekly basis, Tesla China EV registrations rose 500% to 12,654 during the same week, compared to merely 2,110 reported in the prior week.
The price cuts raised concerns in investors’ minds about demand trends amid toughening competition and macroeconomic headwinds. Further, they may lead to the compression of Tesla’s profit margins, but let’s understand the underlying reason for such an aggressive move made by Tesla.
First, there was a visible slowdown in EV demand over the last few months. On the supply side, things look better now with input prices coming down. On top of that, government incentives — like the $7,500 EV tax credit announced in the Inflation Reduction Act — gave one more reason for Tesla to cut prices (in order to meet the eligibility criteria for tax benefits.)
Looking at the pricing metrics, the average selling price for Tesla cars was high, at over $50,000 in December, higher than many of its peers. Therefore, the price cut was inevitable. Even after the price cuts, the cars continue to remain expensive compared to competitors.
It seems like a price war has just begun in the EV industry. After TSLA cut its prices in early January, Xpeng Inc. (NASDAQ:XPEV) followed in its footsteps, slashing the price of its best-seller P7 sedan by 12.5% to $31,015. Therefore, I believe it is likely that other industry players like NIO (NYSE:NIO) and Li Auto (NASDAQ:LI) will also announce price cuts in the coming months.
Prolonged lockdowns in China in 2022 led to a massive drop in production, affecting companies like Tesla. Demand suffered, too, due to challenging macroeconomic conditions while competition from Chinese EV makers intensified. Due to the above factors, for December, Tesla reported a 44% slump in Chinese EV deliveries to 55,796 when compared to November deliveries of 100,291. Further, on a year-over-year basis, December deliveries fell 21%.
Importantly, Tesla lost some of its market share to competitors during the fourth quarter. Tesla’s vehicles represented 65% of new EV sales in 2022 versus 72% in 2021. In the U.S., its market share dropped to 58% during Q4, compared to 78% in the prior-year quarter, despite the 50% growth reported in overall volumes.
Further, CEO Elon Musk’s prolonged tussle with lawmakers over the acquisition of Twitter didn’t go well with many investors. Investors may be worried about Elon Musk selling more TSLA shares like he did in recent months. Addressing those issues, he stated recently that he would not sell any more TSLA shares.
Despite all the bears pulling the stock down in 2022, it is worth praising that Tesla has consistently reported estimate-beating results in the past seven quarters, and, importantly, the company is due to release its Q4 results on January 25.
As per TipRanks, analysts are cautiously optimistic about TSLA stock and have a Moderate Buy consensus rating based on 17 Buys, eight Holds, and three Sells. Tesla’s average price forecast of $187.32 implies 30.4% upside potential.
EV penetration the world over has continued to grow, with newer models being introduced by leading EV makers. In the U.S., EV penetration of new car sales reached 6% in 2022 compared to 3% in 2021.
Tesla’s price cuts have put its competitors in a tough situation, as they may need to follow suit. The company has a strong cost advantage (a high gross profit margin of 26.6% relative to competitors), and its price cuts could immediately boost sales significantly, making up for the lower prices.
Net-net, looking at Tesla’s growth prospects amid its price cuts, I’m bullish on the stock.
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