Tesla stock set to start 2021 at record high

FILE PHOTO: The Tesla logo is seen on a car in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

(Reuters) -Tesla Inc shares were set to open at a record high on Monday, extending a rally from last year that helped it become the most valuable carmaker in the world, after the company reported better-than-expected vehicle deliveries in 2020.

The company delivered 499,550 vehicles, above Wall Street estimates of 481,261 vehicles, according to Refinitiv data, but 450 units short of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s target.

A 700% rise in share value has made Tesla the world’s biggest automaker by market capitalization as the company showed it could sustain its profitability and ride out the coronavirus slowdown that has hit demand and disrupted global supply chains at wider auto industry.

“We are raising our forecasts to reflect higher 4Q deliveries and reports of strong demand for the Model Y in China, which is also suggestive of higher future deliveries,” J.P. Morgan analysts said in a client note.

The brokerage also raised its bearish price target on Tesla to $105 from $90. Street’s median target on the stock is $424.5, nearly $300 below its current trading price, according to Refinitiv data.

Tesla still faces an uphill task of ramping up production. Its delivery push so far has been supported by the new Shanghai factory, the only plant currently producing vehicles outside California.

“The bad news is to keep up with this demand, the company needs to quickly build new factories in Austin, Texas, and Brandenburg, Germany,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures.

“… Ramping production is difficult and will be one of the most important Tesla topics in 2021, along with the status of FSD (Full Self-Driving)”.

Shares of the company, which is valued at nearly $669 billion and joined the benchmark S&P 500 index in December, were up 2.8% at $725 in premarket trading.

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