Tesla shares will likely bounce back after the recent 30% drop, Bernstein says

Key Points
  • Bernstein says whenever Tesla shares dropped below the $300 level in the past 18 months, it was an "attractive" entry point for investors.
  • "We think the [Tesla] setup in sentiment looks relatively favorable for the next few weeks," the firm's analyst Toni Sacconaghi says.
Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla
Yuriko Nakao | Bloomberg | Getty Images

One of Tesla's biggest skeptics sees a bullish trading opportunity in the carmaker's shares.

Bernstein said the 30 percent drop in Tesla's shares through Friday since CEO Elon Musk's famous Aug. 7 take-private tweet was too dramatic. Musk's social media post sparked controversy and stock volatility over questions about funding for his proposal.

"We see the current dip in Tesla's stock as analogous to prior trading opportunities, which have tended to arise when the stock falls below ~$300 per share … We think the setup in sentiment looks relatively favorable for the next few weeks," analyst Toni Sacconaghi said in a note to clients Monday. "We now see the near-term risk-reward for Tesla as relatively skewed to the upside, given the potential for the stock to revert towards the middle of its $270 to $370 range."

Tesla shares rose 8.5 percent Monday. The stock closed at $263.24 Friday.

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Sacconaghi said whenever Tesla's stock dropped below the $300 level over the past 18 months, it was an "attractive near-term entry" point for investors.

He said the latest share decline reflected the potential risk from lawsuits, Musk's "increasingly erratic" behavior, rising electric vehicle competition from other carmakers and more executive departures.

"However, it is unclear to us that any of these are deal breakers for the stock," he said. "There has been little incremental news about Tesla's fundamentals ... The company appears to remain on track to meet its Model 3 production guidance."

Despite being optimistic in the short run, Sacconaghi still questioned Tesla's ability to sustain its profitability for its Model 3 vehicle.

The analyst has been one of the company's prominent Wall Street skeptics. Musk even described one of his questions as "bonehead" and "boring" on an earnings call earlier this year.

"Longer-term, however, we remain neutral on Tesla, as we believe the stock is unlikely to meaningfully break out of this range until investors get clarity on normalized Model 3 gross margins/profitability, as well as product quality," Sacconaghi said. "We continue to see both of these as key question marks going forward."

As a result, the analyst reiterated his market-perform rating and $325 price target for Tesla shares, representing 23.5 percent upside to Friday's closing price.