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Tesla shares charged up ahead of battery news

Tesla home battery for lease?
Tesla home battery for lease?

Questions surrounding Tesla's new stationary storage battery unit will finally be answered Thursday night, when CEO Elon Musk is expected to lay out the company's plans for pricing—and potentially leasing—the units.

Tesla bulls were charged up in the hours ahead of the announcement, sending the shares slightly higher to close Wednesday at $232.45. That puts the automaker's shares 23 percent higher for the month, in its best monthly performance since February 2014.

But will the good times continue once the announcement is made?

According to data from Kensho, a tool designed to quantify historical events, CNBC ran a study to see how Tesla stock performs one day after a new product announcement. According to the findings, which analyzed six new product announcements since 2010, Tesla stock traded positive only 33 percent of the time, with an average return of -3.93 percent.

That compares to the S&P 500 Auto Manufacturers Sub Index trading positive 67 percent of the time with an average return of 0.40 percent.

Tesla: Battery front runner?
Tesla: Battery front runner?

Tesla is expected to unveil two new battery-charging units, one for the home and one utility version, which the company has said will be more compelling than those on the market right now. There are reports that Tesla has already been testing these new products in a pilot program in California with both residential and corporate customers.

This week, Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache argued the technology has the potential to completely change how consumers and investors look at the electric automaker.

"Based on preliminary work on the economics of stationary storage, we believe that this has potential to be more significant than the Street currently expects," he wrote in a note to investors.

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Lache said the stationary storage business could add $5 to his firm's $20 earnings-per-share estimate for Tesla in 2020. He went on to say that if Tesla trades with a price to earnings ratio of 20, then the battery business would be worth $100 a share.

There are plenty of suppositions behind Lache's estimate. But his optimism is noteworthy, as the battery business will be critical to Tesla's future.

Tesla plans to build the battery packs at its Gigafactory just outside of Reno, Nevada. The massive plant will employ 6,500 workers and has the potential to crank out a half-million lithium-ion batteries by 2020.

Since it was announced last year, most have focused on the importance of the Gigafactory for Tesla's electric vehicle business. But now, some are zeroing in on the potential of the stationary storage business.

"While the stationary storage market is still in its infancy, we believe that there are clear indications that significant growth lies ahead," Lache wrote.

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Most of that growth is expected to come from Tesla working with solar energy companies such as SolarCity. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the chairman of that firm.

Still, questions remain about Tesla's plans for the stationary storage business, including how much demand there will be.

Colin Langan, auto analyst at UBS, told CNBC last week that he doesn't forecast his firm ratcheting up earnings per share or revenue estimates given new plans for the batteries. Still, he said it's a positive that the firm is building momentum in the area.

"I think if you look at what Tesla's indicated for the Gigafactory, about a third of the capacity by 2020 if they hit their plan would be dedicated to stationary storage," he said. So even at that point it would still be two-thirds auto."

Tesla will announce its first-quarter earnings results May 6.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, parent of CNBC, is a minority investor in Kensho.


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