Tesla Market Value Beats GM and Ford As Investors Back Musk’s Vision

While Tesla’s production output and profits pales next to General Motors’ and Fords’, enough shareholders have believed in CEO Elon Musk’s concept to surpass their market valuation.

Tesla grabbed attention on the stock market yesterday and last week for seeing its stock price and volume climb high enough to beat the U.S. giants. On Monday, Tesla shares jumped 3.3 percent to reach $50.9 in market capitalization, beating GM by about $64 million. That was a week after surpassing Ford’s market value.

That market performance placed Tesla as number 6 in global automaker ranking, behind Toyota, Daimler, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda. Tesla came within $1 billion of eclipsing Honda.

The news has already promoted questions of whether Tesla’s on-paper valuation is bloated or realistically assessed.

Commentators have Tesla’s market value seems to be more rooted in Musk’s vision for electrified transportation dominating global markets in the future, and the company’s diversified portfolio in future technologies such as fast charging, autonomous driving, solar power, and energy storage.

Tesla will be increasing its vehicle production output with the Model 3 but likely won’t get anywhere near the volume of vehicles manufactured annually by the Detroit competitors. As for profits, Tesla is expected by analysts to lose more than $950 million this year, while GM expects to earn more than $9 billion and Ford thinks its adjusted profit will close the year at about $6.3 billion.

Musk and Tesla are known for stirring hope and passion for supporters of the technology.

“Tesla engenders optimism, freedom, defiance, and a host of other emotions that, in our view, other companies cannot replicate,” said Alexander Potter, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. “As they scramble to catch up, we think Tesla’s competitors only make themselves appear more desperate.”

As of Tuesday morning, Tesla stock was trading at $309.66, with market value at $50.52 billion. GM’s market cap was at $51 billon and Ford’s was at $44.7 billion.

Analysts will be watching how the Model 3 will do against the Chevrolet Bolt. Tesla is expected to produce more of its long-range, affordable EVs next year than will GM with the Bolt. On the corporate level, Tesla isn’t anywhere near its competitor, delivering less than 80,000 vehicles last year compared to GM delivering more than 10 million vehicles.

Musk believes in ramping up battery and vehicle production to become much more than a niche player in the global auto industry. That will be costing the company quite a lot, with profits expected to evade the electric automaker for several more years.

“The market cares more about the potential new market value of the other businesses Tesla is in than about real profits and cash flow,” said David Whiston, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. “Right now there is nothing to slow Tesla’s momentum. They could pass Honda, too.”

Tesla has been able to tap into enthusiasm seen by Silicon Valley technology icons such as Apple, Google, and Uber. GM and Ford have been seen by stock market analysts as institutional entities in a business that’s hard to find growth in profit. Some of them anticipate GM and Ford will see a slowdown in global sales that will cut into profits.

SEE ALSO:  Tesla Motors Feeling Squeeze on Wall Street from Goldman Sachs Downgrade

GM and Ford have been taking Silicon Valley’s influence more seriously in recent years, investing substantially in testing autonomous vehicles and adding mobility services.

“We’re executing a plan to lead the future of personal mobility while delivering record profits, generating strong cash flow and investing in profitable growth,” said Tom Henderson, a GM spokesman.

Like Tesla vehicle owners, its shareholders tend to provide the company with a lot of buy-in to Musk’s vision for the future – even if Tesla once again fails to meet its production goals.

“Tesla’s products have a captivating impact on consumers and shareholders alike; this advantage will be difficult to replicate,” Alexander Potter, a Piper Jaffray analyst, wrote in a report Monday. “Even if the Model 3 production launch goes badly, we think customers (and more importantly shareholders) will withhold judgment.”

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