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Tesla’s (TSLA) delayed Model 3 ramp up is still ‘2x ahead’ of even ‘Tesla’s biggest cheerleader’ forecast

The market is processing Tesla’s delivery results and Model 3 production update released this week. Unsurprisingly, the new record delivery numbers are going unnoticed with all the attention on the Model 3 production ramp, which Tesla delayed by 3 months to reach its 5,000 units per week goal by the end of Q2.

But even though the Model 3 production ramp has been delayed again, the vehicle is still ahead of a forecast from ‘Tesla’s biggest cheerleader’.

Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley analyst assigned to cover Tesla, has once been described by the New York Times as a ‘Tesla Cheerleader‘ for his favorable coverage of the company and always higher than average price target on Tesla’s stock.

But even someone bullish enough about the company to be described as a “cheerleader” has been guiding far more important delays on the Model 3 production than what Tesla announced.

At one point, Jonas even said that the Tesla Model 3 will not arrive until the ‘very end’ of 2018.

To be fair, he ended up adjusting his view closer to the launch and now he tries to reconcile Tesla’s estimate with his own.

In a note released to clients yesterday, the Morgan Stanley analyst wrote that the new delay still places Q1 deliveries 50% higher than his own forecast:

“Model 3 production rate exiting 4Q17 easily 50% above our pace of delivery forecast for 1Q. Our 1Q Model 3 delivery forecast of 8k units implies a pace of less than 700 per week. Tesla reported that it produced 793 Model 3s in the last 7 days of 2017 and in the last few days hit a rate of over 1k per week. Both are well ahead of the weekly delivery rate implied in our 1Q forecast. In other words, Tesla appears to be currently producing the Model 3 at a pace is well ahead of the pace implied in our earnings model.”

Jonas maintained a forecast that doesn’t include Tesla hitting its 5,000 Model 3’s per week target in 2018. He reiterated an equal rating on Tesla with a $379 price target, which represents a 20% upside.

Adam Jonas is ranked #570 out of 4,762 analysts on Tip Ranks  with a 54% success rate and an average return of 11.9%. Here’s his track record on Tesla’s stock:

Electrek’s Take

I think there are a few interesting points here. First off, what are people expecting? No automaker has ever attempted to produce all-electric cars at the kind of volume Tesla is trying to reach with the Model 3.

There’s no baseline. Tesla itself is probably the best point of reference and having reached an extrapolated production rate of 1,000 cars per week in about 6 months, it looks like the Model 3 ramp up was much faster than Model S or Model X.

From here, it’s completely new territory for the company, which is why it’s prudent of Jonas to anticipate further delays.

With this said, the production delays are certainly frustrating for reservation holders – though Tesla seems to have sent out a massive batch of configuration invites, which is sure to make many of them happy.

Personally, I am waiting for Tesla to start including new options to Model 3 configuration, like the standard battery pack, base interior, and even the dual motor option. I think that will be a good indicator that they are starting to nail the currently limited build and they are ready to expand production.

At that point, I think we can expect that 5,000 units per week will be right around the corner.

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