Buy Tesla shares 'even with drama,' Baird analyst says after factory tour

  • Baird analyst reiterates buy rating on Tesla, noting the company's "Gigafactory" creates "a significant barrier for competition," adding Tesla's manufacturing capabilities should be a "competitive advantage" in the long term.
  • "We believe TSLA's Gigafactory enables the company to drive down costs through an industrialization of battery pack assembly and economies of scale," writes analyst Ben Kallo.
  • Tesla shares jump more than 3 percent.
Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors

Investors should still buy Tesla's stock in spite of all the "drama" surrounding the electric car maker and its management, an analyst at Baird said after touring the company's factory.

"We recently toured the Fremont factory and came away incrementally positive" about the company, analyst Ben Kallo wrote in a Monday note titled "Tesla, Inc.: Buy Even with Drama in LBC." "Gigafactory 1 creates a significant barrier for competition and manufacturing capability should be a competitive advantage for TSLA over the long term. We believe TSLA's Gigafactory enables the company to drive down costs through an industrialization of battery pack assembly and economies of scale."

Kallo also reiterated his buy rating and stuck with his $411 price target, an implied upside of 56.1 percent from Friday's close of $263.24. The stock rose 8.5 percent Monday.

Tesla off 25 percent

Tesla shares have been under pressure lately amid key departures from the company's management team, as well as CEO Elon Musk's erratic behavior. Tesla is down more than 25 percent over the past month and has dropped 15.5 percent this year.

On Friday, Tesla announced Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton had resigned. Morton — who had accepted the job less than a month earlier — said in a statement he left Tesla because of "the level of public attention placed on the company." Separately, Bloomberg News reported on Friday the company's head of human resources, Gaby Toledano, is also leaving the company. These two departures pushed Tesla's stock down more than 6 percent on Friday.

The departures came after video surfaced of Musk smoking marijuana and sipping whiskey during an interview with Joe Rogan, fueling worries about his recreational drug use. They also come about a month after Musk tweeted he would take the company private once the stock reached $420. Musk would later back out of taking Tesla off the public market.

But Kallo thinks Tesla's stock should still go higher. "While negative headlines around management turnover and executive leadership could be an overhang, we are labeling TSLA a 'Fresh Pick' as we believe strong fundamentals should drive shares higher," he writes.

Kallo said improving margins and increasing Model 3 production, more information about additional factories, possible introduction of future products, and "ramp of the gigafactory and additional Tesla Energy project announcements" should propel Tesla's stock.