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Gene Munster: If Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn't 'mess it up,' the stock would be over $400

Key Points
  • "Despite all of the distractions, they delivered," Loup Ventures founder Munster says of Tesla's third-quarter earnings results.
  • While some investors say demand for the Model 3 is slowing, Munster disagrees.
  • He predicts that Tesla shares will "move higher in the near term."
Loup Ventures Founder Gene Munster gives his take on Tesla earnings

Tesla shares soared more than 12 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday following a strong third-quarter earnings report, but Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster said the stock could have gone much higher.

"If Elon didn't mess it up over the last 3 months, the stock would be over $400 today," he said in an interview with CNBC's "Fast Money." The stock closed at $288.50 per share on Wednesday.

Shares of the company have been on a wild ride since August, when CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he had "Funding secured" to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Following the tweet, shares hit a 52-week high of $387, but have since erased those gains amid an SEC lawsuit that forced Musk to agree to step down as chairman.

Tesla surprised Wall Street by reporting positive earnings for the third quarter, notching just its third profitable quarter since the company's 2010 IPO. Revenue also beat analysts' expectations.

Here's how the company did compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates of analysts polled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: $2.90 vs. a loss of 19 cents
  • Revenue: $6.82 billion vs. $6.33 billion

"Despite all of the distractions, [Tesla] delivered," Munster said. In addition to its surprise profit, the company ramped up production of its Model 3 sedan by reducing the number of manufacturing labor hours by 30 percent.

While some investors say demand for the Model 3 is slowing, Munster disagreed. "The demand is in fact real," he said. He said customers will keep coming as long as the Model 3 continues to be "substantially better" than alternatives.

Munster predicts that Tesla shares will "move higher in the near term" and expects "another step up" after the company releases its fourth-quarter earnings report early next year.

— CNBC's Dawn Kopecki contributed to this report.