Tesla stock tumbles on outlook, price target cuts

CNBC with Reuters
Tesla's stock shock

Is clock ticking for this Cinderella stock?

Investors continued to punish Tesla shares Thursday, with several analysts cutting their price targets, a day after the electric car maker posted quarterly earnings.

The company's stock dropped almost 8 percent Thursday, continuing its tumble from Wednesday's after-hours trading.

"For a while, the stock has been way ahead of itself," Cole Cox of Long Lomborg Asset Management told CNBC. "Three years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if it's lower than it is at right now today as valuations and economic reality of this business catch up with the market cap."

So far, at least two analysts have cut their price targets on the electric car maker. UBS and JPMorgan slashed their target price on the company to $200 from $230, and $163 from $164, respectively. Both brokerages have a "neutral" rating on Tesla.

Goldman kept its "neutral" rating on the stock and its price target of $200, saying it is still "meaningfully below" analyst consensus in terms of earnings per share this year through 2016.

Tesla momentum gone, valuation matters: Trader

On Wednesday, the company posted earnings of 12 cents a share, excluding one-time items, on sales of $713 million. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of 10 cents a share on $699 million in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Tesla posted a higher-than-expected first-quarter operating profit and said its operating automotive gross margins in the current quarter would increase slightly. S&P Capital IQ analyst Efraim Levy called the outlook a disappointment, saying investors had hoped for something better.

"Unfortunately the stock has half the market cap of General Motors and they need to become a mass-market company to justify its valuation," said John Thompson, CEO of Vilas Capital, in a CNBC interview.

Meanwhile, the electric car maker said it produced 7,535 Model S vehicles in the first quarter. For the second quarter, the company said it expects to deliver 7,500 units.

Tesla said its entry into China has been "greeted enthusiastically," as it delivered its first Model S vehicles in Beijing and Shanghai. The company also announced plans to expand in China "as fast as possible."

On the earnings call, the company reiterated its plan to build in China in the next three to four years.

Read MoreWhy Tesla will win in China: Yoshikami

In addition, Tesla said it plans to invest as much as $850 million in capital expenditures this year for increased production capacity, growth in stores, service center and the start of its lithium-ion battery plant "Gigafactory" construction.

"With all these initiatives, we expect to be slightly free cash flow negative in 2014, before considering the equity required for leasing," the company said in a press release.

Tesla beats on top, bottom line

In the past year, Tesla stock has risen dramatically, rising more than 250 percent in the past year as investors place bets on continued growth of the company's electric car sales.

Three top officials at the Federal Trade Commission recently took the unusual step of

Read MoreElectric or hybrid? These drivers are wealthier

Governments in Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia have passed laws banning Tesla's unique model of selling its cars directly to customers instead of working through the franchised dealerships ubiquitous in the industry. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated he does not want to participate in the dealer system, and many dealers see Tesla's direct sales approach as a threat to their existence.

Commissioners rarely speak out on issues in this way, and the opinion is not the agency's official position. The FTC has not taken any action in the case.

—CNBC with Reuters