Morgan Stanley surveyed investors about Tesla and Ford, and the responses are bleak for Tesla

Tesla’s market value recently surpassed Ford’s, and it was a big milestone for the smaller electric-car maker that contends with the traditional auto makers.

But if investors had to buy and hold shares of either one company for three years, those who Morgan Stanley asked would rather own Ford.

Morgan Stanley received 140 responses from investors to four questions on both companies.

“We are quite surprised how high expectations have recovered for Tesla’s Model 3,” said Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley’s lead auto analyst, in a note on Friday.

“On the other hand, [we] were also surprised to see how positive investors appear to be on Ford vis-à-vis Tesla in terms of forward looking share price performance.

Jonas noted that this outcome may be shaped by the fact that most respondents skewed towards the traditional auto industry. The survey result was more evenly split — 34% for Tesla to 33% for Ford — when investors were presented with a third option that was neither company.

The majority of respondents — 26% — said they thought Tesla’s stock would be trading between $US200 and $US299 a share three years from now. That’s lower than its current level, but leaps above the IPO opening price of $US17 a share. Tesla opened at $US317.47 on Friday.

Ford shares, meanwhile, fell nearly 40% from when former CEO Mark Fields took over through his departure announcement on Monday. Some analysts noted that the executive changes were made as the board became impatient with the stock’s lacklustre performance.

Musk defended the company’s valuation over the longer term in an April tweet. “Tesla is absurdly overvalued if based on the past, but that’s irrelevant,” he said. “A stock price represents risk-adjusted future cash flows.”

Tesla’s valuation came into focus again as its market cap surpassed GM and Ford’s.

“I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve,” CEO Elon Musk said in a recent interview with The Guardian, pointing out his company produces just 1% of GM’s total output. “We’re a money losing company,” he added.

Get the latest Ford stock price here.

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