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Tesla shares hit 52-week high, less than 4 percent from all-time record

Tesla Motors Inc.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tesla Motors Inc.

Tesla shares hit a 52-week high on Monday, and edged closer to an all-time high, as the company prepares to announce earnings and takes further steps to develop its eagerly awaited Model 3 sedan.

Shares rose 4 percent Monday, at one point trading as high as $280.67, its loftiest level over the past year. At that price, the stock was less than 4 percent away from its all-time high of $291.42, set in Sept. 14.

Tesla has recently shown progress in its ambitious, even aggressive, plan to bring the Model 3 to market, by saying it was planning to pause its factory in Fremont, California, to retool for Model 3 production.

Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch said in a research note Monday that shares "are trading in line with anticipation of a successful Model 3 launch," and they would not be surprised to see Tesla "opportunistically raise capital to support medium- and long-term growth. We would view a capital raise as a catalyst to the upside given that it would remove part of the near-term bear argument."

Some Tesla bears suspect the company does not have enough capital to complete its Model 3 production ramp on time, or fund the growth of its other projects — such as turning its SolarCity division into a profitable line of products.

The company also invited investors and analysts out to Nevada in early January for a tour of its Gigafactory, where it is making Model 3 components along with batteries for both its cars.

A Feb. 9 note from Baird analyst Ben Kallo urged investors to buy the stock ahead of its fourth-quarter earnings release, which is planned for Feb. 22. Kallo cited the Gigafactory tour as a factor in his confidence in the company, and said he thinks Tesla can deliver about 25,000 Model 3 sedans before the end of the year.

The stock's current price reflects a nearly 100-point jump from early December, when the stock was trading around $181 per share.