Tesla's Stock Plunge: Why Experts Are Still Betting Big on Musk's Empire



by FARUK IMAMOVIC

Tesla's Stock Plunge: Why Experts Are Still Betting Big on Musk's Empire
© Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Tesla's recent downturn has caught the attention of investors and market analysts alike. Despite a challenging week for Tesla, with shares plummeting following a less-than-expected earnings report, notable fund manager David Baron remains unwaveringly optimistic about Elon Musk's ventures, Tesla and SpaceX.

This article delves into the intricate dynamics of these companies and their forecasted growth amidst a complex economic landscape.

Tesla's Steady Ascent Amidst Market Turbulence

David Baron, managing the Baron Focused Growth Fund, which prominently features Tesla and SpaceX as its largest holdings, predicts a bright future for these companies.

As of December 31, 2023, his fund saw a significant 28% rise, outperforming the S&P 500’s 24% gain. Despite Tesla's recent stock decline of 12% following an earnings call that analysts described as a "train wreck," Baron forecasts Tesla stock to soar approximately 550% to reach $1,200 per share by 2030.

Baron's confidence stems from Tesla's consistent growth trajectory, even in challenging economic times. "While he may not be growing 50% a year as the company thought, this year in a tough environment he's still growing volume by 15% to 20% per year and making us $7,000 per car of gross profit," Baron explained to Bloomberg.

Tesla's ability to maintain profitability and growth amidst a production slowdown in 2024 is a testament to the company's resilience and operational efficiency. "[Musk's] interests are aligned with ours," Baron maintained.

"He's not going to do anything stupid to change the trajectory of the companies."

Elon Musk© Getty Images/Omar Marques

SpaceX: Tripling Valuation by 2030

SpaceX, another jewel in Musk's crown, is not far behind in terms of investor confidence and growth prospects.

Baron anticipates a 20% increase in SpaceX's valuation this year alone. With an estimated worth of over $175 billion, he expects the company to double its valuation within three years and triple by 2030. This optimistic outlook for SpaceX aligns with the broader trend of growth in the space industry and Musk's visionary leadership.

The Broader Market Perspective

Contrasting Baron’s bullish stance, other market experts adopt a more cautious approach. Amundi, a European asset management behemoth, anticipates slower economic growth and weaker performance from mega-cap stocks.

Craig Sterling, Amundi US' head of equity research, voiced concerns about the overvaluation of top market performers like Tesla, suggesting a potential imbalance in the market. "While we would expect the Mag 7 to trade at a premium to the overall market given mostly superior growth and margins, the concentration of the top of the market and its valuation gap with the average stock is historic," Sterling said.

"This dynamic generally does not end well." In 2023, the S&P 500's 25% increase was largely driven by the 'Magnificent Seven' stocks, including Tesla. However, Sterling warns of a possible overestimation of short-term impacts from new technologies, such as AI, on these stocks.

This trend mirrors the broader market dynamics, where high expectations often lead to sharp corrections. "AI-euphoria has taken the baton," Sterling said. "Typically, the market tends to overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies, which leads to disappointments for the stocks."

The Impending Economic Slowdown

As the global economy braces for a slowdown, investment strategies are shifting.

Amundi's base case scenario predicts a mild recession in the US, advising investors to be wary of stocks with "excess valuations." Marco Pirondini, Amundi's chief investment officer, suggests that bonds might be more attractive in the current economic climate, as they pose limited downside risks and could benefit from easing inflation and a potential Federal Reserve pivot.

"The US is very expensive relative to itself and to the world," Pirondini said. "As the economy and its subcomponents of inflation and interest rates normalize," Sterling said, "we expect that the market to broaden out and start to look past an economic slowdown or recession and the many operating distortions which should benefit the average stock growth."

Navigating Market Uncertainty

The investment landscape remains complex and unpredictable.

While some, like Baron, maintain a bullish outlook on companies like Tesla and SpaceX, others urge caution, pointing to potential overvaluations and impending economic challenges. As the market continues to evolve, investors must navigate these uncertainties, balancing optimism with a prudent assessment of risks.

The recent mixed signals from key economic indicators, such as the Personal Consumption Expenditure and consumer spending data, further complicate the market scenario. With Intel’s disappointing earnings causing a ripple effect in the Nasdaq index and fluctuating Treasury yields, the market remains in a state of flux.

While the future of companies like Tesla and SpaceX seems promising according to some analysts, the broader market context suggests a more nuanced and cautious approach. As the economic landscape continues to evolve, investors and market watchers alike will be keenly observing how these predictions unfold in the coming years.

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