Tesla is near the top of list of stocks that Wall Street is most confused about

  • There appear to be only two other companies that analysts are more confused about: Dish Network and Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
  • CNBC compared stock price targets on more than 800 U.S. companies worth more than $5 billion each to compare the dispersion of targets.
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Joe Skipper | Reuters
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Analysts on Wall Street are really divided on the trajectory of electric car maker Tesla and it shows in their stock price forecasts.

In fact, there appear to be only two other companies that analysts are more confused about: Dish Network and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, according to CNBC analysis.

By comparing coefficients of variation — a statistical measures of the dispersion of targets around an average — the stocks Wall Street is most uncertain about become more obvious. CNBC compared targets on more than 800 U.S. stocks for companies worth more than $5 billion each.

Commenting on the disagreement among analysts on the group of stocks, Jon Najarian, of the Najarian Family Office and a CNBC contributor, said he wasn't necessarily surprised to see certain names top the list.

"For Valeant, it's likely because so many analysts have been burned; it's not just Bill Ackman," Najarian said Friday. "For Dish, the AT&T acquisition of DirecTV hasn't exactly been a light-em-up event. Without AT&T, someone is going to say it's take-over bait while others would say it's a dying breed as people cut cords."

Still, for Tesla, a cursory glance at headlines in the past few weeks shows an exceptional growth in the division between Tesla optimists and pessimists.

For example, Baird reiterated its outperform rating on Wednesday, predicting the Palo Alto, California-based automaker will make significant progress in its Model 3 output. The firm''s analyst, Ben Kallo, reaffirmed his $411 price target for Tesla shares, representing 48 percent upside to Thursday's close.

"Negative headlines have increased substantially in the past month and, in our opinion, increasingly immaterial reports have dominated news cycles," Kallo said in a note. "We think we have hit a peak in negative coverage/sentiment."

German investment bank Berenberg also remained upbeat earlier this week, contending that Model 3 gross margins will "positively surprise."

The firm raised its price target for Tesla to $500 from $470, representing 80 percent upside to Thursday's close, predicting it will be able to meet its 25 percent gross profit margin forecast for the Model 3. The investment bank also reiterated its buy rating on the stock.

Some analysts aren't convinced, however, including Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas. The analyst slashed his price target to $291 from $376 for Tesla shares last Tuesday, saying the firm is "making material reductions to our earnings estimates to reflect lingering manufacturing issues."

"It is our view that the challenges in ramping up Model 3 production reflect fundamental issues of vehicle design, manufacturing process, and automation levels that can weigh against the profitability of the vehicle," Jonas wrote.

Tesla's share price, which has declined nearly 11 percent this year, is closely related to Model 3 production. The percentage of Tesla's available stock currently sold short exceeds 30 percent, according to FactSet.

Goldman Sachs isn't a fan, either.

"We believe the sustainable production rate for the second quarter of 2018 is most likely below the 2,000 vehicle mark the company achieved in the final week of the [first] quarter," Goldman analyst David Tamberrino wrote last month. "We see the company likely sustaining Model 3 production around the 1,400 per week mark."

Disclosure: Jon Najarian is a frequent guest on CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report."

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