Investing

Elon Musk is as if 'Thomas Edison and Henry Ford made a baby,' analyst says as Tesla stock soars

Key Points
  • "If Thomas Edison and Henry Ford made a baby, that baby would be called Elon Musk," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said on Tuesday.
  • Jonas lauded Musk's push for innovation across his companies.
  • But Jonas still is sticking by his underperform rating and $360 price target – essentially expecting the stock will drop 60% in the next year.
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Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas on Tesla's soaring stock

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas gave Tesla's chief executive high praise on Tuesday amid a spectacular run in the stock that's seen it double in value already this year.

"Let me just step back and say, if Thomas Edison and Henry Ford made a baby, that baby would be called Elon Musk. He's absolutely incredible, what he's done, using his enthusiasm to really change the world, if we're being honest," Jonas said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

Jonas lauded Musk's push for innovation across his companies, saying that "on New Year's Eve I sent Elon a message" of encouragement.

"I think all of us can thank him for not giving up," Jonas said.

Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk attends an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020.
Aly Song | Reuters

But Jonas still is sticking by his underperform rating and $360 price target – essentially expecting the stock will drop 60% in the next year. He broke down a bit of why he thinks Tesla is so overvalued as an automaker.

"The recommendation on the stock is a different thing. We think what's in the price right now is something approaching four million units of annual volume by the year 2030 at 15% EBITDA margin. So that'd be a margin roughly two times the auto industry average, at a level of volume of 40%, maybe approaching 50%, of Toyota," Jonas said.

Instead of valuing Tesla as an automaker, Jonas said the stock is becoming more commonly valued as a technology company.

"What's happening now in the market is essentially, by doing a deal with China to bring in some capital and draw a line under the distress argument, Tesla's basically throwing a stick of dynamite at a fireworks store. And it's led to a chain reaction where auto analysts, both buy side and sell side, are passing the stock over to tech analysts. From a tech perspective, they aren't just thinking about number of units sold times price or margin. They're thinking of users, recurring revenue, do they become a battery supplier to the world's auto companies?" Jonas said.

Morgan Stanley still has a worst case scenario model where Tesla's stock plummets to $115 – a level Jonas admitted is difficult to see happening after the company's rally.

"Our current bear case is $115, which, again, might be the new $10 – it's an extremely low, hard-to-fathom level. We had to throw that out there," Jonas said.