The Ratings Game: Tesla’s introduction to the Model Y underwhelms and stock promptly falls
Tesla Inc.’s newly revealed Model Y has failed to excite Wall Street, with some investors saying the unveiling of the crossover vehicle played out like an infomercial that sought to mask weaker Model 3 demand and a cash grab.
Tesla TSLA, -5.01% shares lost 5% on Friday to close at their lowest since Oct. 22. They are down more than 6% from the moment that Chief Executive Elon Musk announced the vehicle’s unveiling date on Twitter, and off nearly 30% from a September 2017 record high.
The crossover starts at $ 47,000 and ordering one requires a $ 2,500 deposit, which is more than what Tesla required at the time of the Model 3 reveal.
See also: Tesla’s Elon Musk unveils Model Y crossover, with $ 47,000 price tag
At the unveiling late Thursday, Musk said he expected to sell more Model Ys than Tesla’s other vehicles combined. Production of the car is expected to start in late 2020, and a standard-range, cheaper car is expected to roll out the factory floor in early 2021 and cost about $ 39,000.
“We remain concerned about the manufacturing timeline,” said Toni Sacconaghi with Bernstein. The late-2020 goal appears similar to the Model 3’s, and ultimately the sedan was delayed by 9 to 12 months, he said.
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The more expensive deposit may also stoke bearish sentiment on Tesla’s cash situation, Sacconaghi said. Ordering a Model 3 at the time of its launch required a $ 1,000 deposit.
Model Y orders could be “muted,” said Joseph Spak at RBC Capital Markets. “The vehicle isn’t available for nearly two years and consumers may realize that putting down money early for the Model 3 didn’t yield many benefits,” he said.
The bigger question is how much the Model Y will cannibalize the Model 3, which could be significant since crossover SUVs are more popular than sedans, Spak said.
Unlike previous unveilings, there was “no ’one more thing’ that many expected,” he said. Spak also questioned Tesla’s strategy of showing the vehicle now versus unveiling it closer to the start of production.
Analysts at Roth Capital Partners, led by Craig Irwin, had their own answer to that question: “The Model Y launch event was likely pulled forward to distract from weak demand for the Model 3,” they said.
Related: Here’s why Tesla’s Model Y announcement is ‘fodder for the bears’
“Tesla must now deliver unit growth for the stock to work, in our view,” the Roth analysts said.
The night “held no surprises” and played like an infomercial for Tesla without the one-more-thing moment, said Jeffrey Osborne at Cowen. There was nothing to assuage anxiety around demand slowdowns, no Model S and Model X refresh, and no color around first-quarter results.
“We believe the event was more of a capital raising effort and branding exercise. We do not see the new Model Y igniting elevated demand or enthusiasm for the Tesla brand,” they said.
Tesla shares have fallen 15% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.50% has gained 2.9% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.54% has gained 4.1%.