On Sunday, Tesla reported much better than expected third-quarter deliveries: 24,500 vehicles.
The automaker also guided to a stronger fourth quarter; if that happens, Tesla will meet its 50,000-deliveries goal for the second half of the year.
Then on Monday, Tesla shares enjoyed a nice pop of about 5%, taking the stock to about $215 at one point.
But since then, shares have retreated. On Wednesday, the stock was hovering around $210.
The strong bull case for Tesla sees shares heading much higher: to $300 or $400 or more. But in the near term, it’s hard to see what will put Tesla on that kind of run.
If the automaker could delivery almost 25,000 vehicles in three months while producing even more — over 5,000 vehicles were in transit and won’t count as sales until Q4 — and only see a modest uptick in its share price, then it might not see a big bump if it manages to meet its 2016 deliveries guidance of 80,000-90,000 vehicles.
The bulls might be waiting to see if Tesla’s Model 3, which will be priced at $30,000 after tax incentives and have a 200-plus-mile range, will arrive on schedule in late 2017, enabling Tesla to vacuum up billions for the 375,000 pre-orders it has taken on the vehicle (at $1,000 each).
Or they might actually be waiting for a profitable quarter, which is unlikely given that Tesla is currently working to acquire SolarCity for $2.6 billion and bring a $6-billion battery factory in Nevada online.
At the moment, it looks like the “priced in” thesis around Tesla stock is the correct one. Some analysts have argued that at its its current valuation, Tesla has captured all the growth it can for now. If you buy in today, you’ll have to hold for a while to see a move up. The growth, which has been epic — anyone who bought Tesla after its 2010 IPO has seen a better-than-1,000% return — is over.
Or at least over until late next year.