CFRA raises price forecast on Tesla to Musk's now-infamous target of $420 a share

Key Points
  • CFRA is raising price target on Tesla from $375 to $420. 
  • Analyst Garrett Nelson expects Tesla to limit the impact of new competition as it introduces lower cost Model 3s.
  • The $420 price was the now-infamous price Elon Musk had wanted to take Tesla private at. 
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

CFRA just raised its price forecast on Tesla to $420 a share — the same as the now-infamous price target CEO Elon Musk told investors they would get if he took the company private earlier this year.

The electric car market is about to get more competitive in 2019, but CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson said he expects Tesla to roll out lower-priced versions of the Model 3 that will undercut rivals and limit any impact on sales. He also said the car's cost should fall as Tesla becomes more efficient. Nelson reiterated a buy rating on the stock and raised the price target from his previous forecast of $375 a share.

Shares of Tesla were trading around $361 a share Tuesday afternoon.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Parsing Musk's comments that Tesla was close to death

Tesla has been reportedly boosting Model 3 production at its Fremont, California, factory, where it continues to build some of its cars inside a temporary tent-like structure. The electric car maker took the extraordinary measure to speed up its production after months of falling behind deadlines.

Now, Musk reportedly wants to start transitioning from focusing on production to controlling costs and reducing the car's price.

Musk made the price of $420 a share famous when he tweeted in early August that he had already secured funding to take Tesla private at that price. He abandoned the plan near the end of that month. The incident shocked investors and created a storm of controversy for the company, including an eventual lawsuit and settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC said in its settlement that Musk arrived at $420 a share by adding 20 percent to Tesla's then-share price and rounding up to $420 because of "the significance of that number in marijuana culture, and his belief that his girlfriend would be amused by it."

WATCH: Biggest winners if China lowers auto tariffs

Who the biggest winners will be if China lowers auto tariffs