The technical reason why Tesla shares could soon rise 54%

Tesla could see 54 percent of upside — about $134 from its Monday closing price — if one top technical analyst's examination holds up.

Shares of the automaker fell in Monday trading after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to a "sell," citing the prospects of a delayed launch of the Model 3, an "unproven solar business, and cash needs." But Rich Ross, Evercore ISI's head of technical analysis, likes the stock and sees a bullish narrative in the charts.

Examining a four-year chart of the stock, Tesla admittedly looks volatile purely from a technical standpoint, Ross pointed out, observing that shares have vacillated between roughly $280 on the high-end and about $180 at its lows.

And should Tesla again reach that high end it hit as recently as last week in the ballpark of $280, investors could "tack another $100 on if this story works," he said Monday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

In a two-year chart of Tesla, Ross pointed out that the stock has seen substantial gains since recent lows of December 2016.

"Now, you've had a 38 percent retracement — a textbook retracement — right back to the 50-day [moving average] around $241-ish. So in here, I like the stock, the risk/reward for traders is back in your favor," he said.

"I think you're a buyer in here if you like the story; you could get a breakout and tack another $100 on if this story works," Ross said, referring to his technical analysis.

Shares of Tesla fell last week after reporting a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings loss, despite sales appearing better than analysts expected.

In a report published Monday, Goldman Sachs analyst David Tamberrino pinned a six-month price target of $185 on the current stock, implying about 25 percent of downside, and noted its operation execution is "still unproven," and forecasted a disappointing Model 3 production launch.

"Further, the acquisition of SolarCity — which is undergoing its own business model transition — comes at a time when we believe Tesla should be singularly focused on becoming a mass automobile manufacturer," he wrote, referring to the solar energy services company of which Tesla CEO Elon Musk is chairman.

Analysts are largely divided over Tesla, observed Stacey Gilbert, Susquehanna's head of derivative strategy.

"Even if we just looked at how analysts actually break this down between your bulls, your bears and those sitting on the sidelines, it's almost a third across the board for those three different types of ratings," which is very different from what investors typically see in a large-cap name, where almost 50 percent of analysts fall into one of the camps, Gilbert said Monday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

And curiously enough, the options market is not seeing a ton of activity for a stock that investors are "constantly waiting for," Gilbert said, referring to announcements about the Model 3 or reports of raising capital.

And if anything, Gilbert said, she would make an argument for those who want to buy in that buying calls would be cheap at current levels, in the bottom quartile of where they've been over the last two years, she said.

"So while there's not this huge sentiment in the options place, it sets up really nicely right now for those that have a strong opinion directionally," she said.

Analysts currently give Tesla an average "hold" rating, according to FactSet data, with a slightly bearish target price of $243.06.


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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