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Tesla profitability will not 'magically return,' analyst says, as Q1 was a 'debacle' for Musk

Key Points
  • "We view this quarter as one of top debacles we have ever seen while Musk & Co. in an episode out of the Twilight Zone act as if demand and profitability will magically return to the Tesla story," Wedbush says.
  • Wedbush lowered its rating of Tesla shares to neutral from outperform.
  • Tesla reported a first quarter loss on Wednesday that was far worse than Wall Street expected.
Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at federal court in New York, on Thursday, April 4, 2019.
Natan Dvir | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Wedbush lowered its rating of Tesla shares to neutral from outperform on Thursday after the company reported a first quarter loss that was far worse than Wall Street expected.

"In our 20 years of covering tech stocks on the Street we view this quarter as one of top debacles we have ever seen while Musk & Co. in an episode out of the Twilight Zone act as if demand and profitability will magically return to the Tesla story," Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said in a note to investors.

"The demand story at Tesla is quickly changing and the company has unfortunately not adjusted to an evolving [electric vehicle] landscape (especially in the US) with the well thought out marketing and distribution logistics needed to manage this difficult and complex hand holding process for customers, employees, and investors," Ives added.

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Additionally, Wedbush lowered its price target on Tesla to $275 a share from $365 a share, a nearly 25% cut. The new target implies 6.3 percent upside from Wednesday's close.

Tesla reported a loss of $2.90 a share for the first quarter, nearly quadruple what Wall Street expected at a loss of 69 cents a share. Revenue was also $650 million lower in the first quarter than anticipated.

"We no longer can look investors in the eye and recommend buying this stock at current levels until Tesla starts to take its medicine and focus on reality around demand issues which is the core focus of investors," Ives said.

Tesla's stock fell 4.3% in trading to close at $247.63 a share.