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REFILE-Tesla's market value eclipses GM and Ford - combined!

Noel Randewich

(Refiles to correct spelling of "Tesla," not "Telsa," in headline of second graphic)

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - For the first time, Tesla Inc's stock market value has eclipsed the combined values of General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co.

The Silicon Valley electric car maker's stock rose about 4%at midday on Wednesday, hitting a record high and elevating its market capitalization to $88 billion. That is $2 billion larger than General Motors' and Ford's respective stock market values of $49 billion and $37 billion, combined.

Fueled by a surprise third-quarter profit, progress at a new factory in China and better-than-expected car deliveries in the fourth quarter , Tesla's stock has nearly doubled in the past three months.

The progress made by Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has defied short sellers and other traders expecting the automaker to be overtaken by long-established car companies, including GM and Ford.

Underscoring investors' confidence in Musk and his company's future growth, its market capitalization has outpaced its U.S. rivals, even as their businesses dwarf Tesla's. GM and Ford each delivered more than 2 million vehicles in the United States last year, compared with Tesla's worldwide deliveries of 367,500 vehicles.

While Tesla's recent progress has cheered supporters, many analysts and investors remain pessimistic about the company's ability to consistently deliver profit and cash flow.

The company has repeatedly missed targets in recent years and Musk's mercurial behavior has come under close scrutiny from financial regulators and shareholders of Tesla.

More analysts rate Tesla "sell" than "buy," which is extremely unusual for companies on Wall Street. Eleven analysts recommend buying Tesla shares, while 13 recommend selling and another nine are neutral, according to Refinitiv data.

Shares of GM are unchanged over the past 12 months, while Ford has risen 10%, both drastically underperforming the broader market, with a slump in China car sales hurting investor sentiment in both of those companies.

This week Tesla began delivering Model 3 electric cars built at its Shanghai factory, just under a year since it began work on the $2 billion plant.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco Editing by Alden Bentley and Matthew Lewis)