Investing

Another analyst just put out a shocking bear case for Tesla: Citi says stock could drop to $36

Key Points
  • "Maintain sell/high risk as the risk/reward still appears negatively skewed despite the recent capital raise and stock pullback," Citi's Itay Michaeli says.
  • He cites lingering demand and free cash flow issues.
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

Morgan Stanley caused a stir on Tuesday when star auto analyst Adam Jonas put out a "bear case" scenario that envisioned Tesla's shares plummeting to just $10.

And now a Citigroup Global Markets analyst is out with another shocking scenario for Elon Musk's electric car maker.

Citi's Itay Michaeli sees increasing probability the shares plummet more than 80% to $36.

"Maintain sell/high risk as the risk/reward still appears negatively skewed despite the recent capital raise and stock pullback, mainly on lingering demand/FCF (free cash flow) concerns," the analyst said in a note late Tuesday. "Reducing estimates to reflect the recent capital raise, Q1 results/guide and our own inputs."

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The analyst cut his regular price target on Tesla to $191 from $238 by adjusting the probabilities of three scenarios, seeing a decreasing chance of a big rally in the stock and an increasing chance of a share collapse. He sees a 40% chance (up from 35%) of a "full bear" scenario of $36, a 55% chance of a "moderate bull" scenario of $253 and a 5% chance (down from 10%) of a "full bull case" of $760.

Tesla shares are down 38% this year, falling 2% in Wednesday's premarket to below $201, with the drop accelerating since CEO Elon Musk told employees last week that they would need to take "hardcore" measures to cut costs. "It is important to bear in mind that we lost $700 million in the first quarter this year, which is over $200 million per month," Musk's email said.

"So the recent reported internal memo, which seemingly called into question prior guidance, didn't help the risk/reward calculus. The implications can be serious, since an automaker's balance sheet is always subject to the confidence 'spiral' risk," Michaeli said.

Morgan Stanley shocked the street on Tuesday by cutting its worst-case scenario target for Tesla shares to just $10, down from $97. "Our revised bear case assumes Tesla misses our current Chinese volume forecast by roughly half to account for the highly volatile trade situation in the region, particularly around areas of technology, which we believe run a high and increasing risk of government/regulatory attention," Jonas wrote in the note.

Wall Street seems to be piling onto the struggling stock. Seven analysts have cut their price targets on Tesla in May, according to TipRanks.com. Tesla began the month saying it would raise more than $2 billion through stock and convertible debt.

With reporting by CNBC's Michael Bloom and Elliot Smith

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