S&P Rates Tesla Stock As Junk

Today Standard & Poor’s gave Tesla Motors’ stock an unsolicited junk rating of B-minus, six grades below investment status, for what it termed a “vulnerable” automaker.

“We believe there is considerable uncertainty in Tesla’s long-term prospects and believe that the company is less likely to successfully adapt to competitive and technological displacement risks over the medium to long term,” says S&P’s report written by analysts Nishit Madlani, Dan Picciotto and Joseph Lin.

The “unsolicited” rating means S&P came to its own conclusions without Tesla having requested the rating, or consulting with S&P.

Presently, TSLA has nearly half the market capitalization of General Motors, and over one-third that of Ford. The valuation has been driven up in part by speculators and investors counting on the company’s future potential as they see it.

Some investors in alternative energy transportation are believed to have confused the distinctions between a pure tech company, and an automotive company, the latter being what Tesla is being classified as.

S&P did praise Tesla for “improving brand recognition, ongoing cost structure improvements,” as well as for “lower logistics costs,” and Tesla’s “ability to command a price premium through its Model S product, design and technology.”

The ratings agency is the the world’s largest, and said it could consider raising Tesla’s ratings if higher, sustainable demand for Tesla’s products contribute to “a credible pathway” for free operating cash flow and a lower leverage ratio. This scenario, S&P however said is “unlikely” in the next 12 months.