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Here’s why Wall Street isn’t excited about the Tesla Model Y

Heidi Chung
Reporter

After much anticipation and hype, the Tesla Model Y was finally unveiled on Thursday evening at an event in California. But, Wall Street wasn’t very impressed.

“We found the event somewhat underwhelming with no major surprises,” Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner wrote in a note to clients on Friday. Rosner has a $345 price target on Tesla.

The compact SUV’s base low-range model will be priced around $39,000 and will be about 10% larger than the Model 3. According to Tesla, the Model Y and Model 3 will share about 75% of the same parts.

“The model Y is to the Model X, as the Model 3 is to the Model S. A more economical and presumably higher-volume version of Tesla's X,” Canaccord analyst Jed Dorsheimer explained in a note Friday. Dorsheimer reiterated both his Buy rating on Tesla and his $450 price target, which is a more than 58% move higher from Friday’s opening price of $283.51.

In terms of design, analysts agree that the Model Y and Model 3 look far too similar. “Model Y itself essentially is a crossover version of Model 3,” Rosner argued. “The main new feature is the optional 3rd row of seats, which should be a small positive for potential vehicle demand.”

The Tesla Inc. Model Y crossover electric vehicle sits on display during an unveiling event in Hawthorne, California, U.S., on Friday, March 15, 2019. Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the cheaper electric crossover sports utility vehicle (SUV) will be available from the spring of 2021. The vehicle's price will start at $39,000, a longer-range version will cost $47,000. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cannibalizing the Model 3

Analysts have also expressed concern that the Model Y will likely cannibalize the Model 3. “Tesla also began taking online reservations for the higher price trim version of Model Y shortly after the conclusion of the event, requiring a $2.5k deposit, which we think may add to cannibalization risk of Model 3 demand,” Rosner said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas echoed Rosner’s prediction. “[The Model Y is] likely to cannibalize the Model 3, in our opinion. The Model Y offers substantially greater space, nearly identical performance, and nearly as much range as a Model 3... and it has 2 extra seats in a 3rd row which is a very big deal, especially for the U.S. market. This partially explains why Tesla pulled forward the intro of the lower priced Model 3 to provide some more pricing room vs. the early versions of the Model Y.” Jonas currently has an Equal-Weight rating on Tesla stock with a $260 price target, which is about 8% downside.

Analysts remain skeptical of the timing of the Model Y’s launch; however, now that the unveiling is over, analysts argue that the attention will shift back to the other headwinds plaguing Tesla.

“We only saw one drivable Model Y at the event, which had to be shared by the entire audience (750-800 people), leading us to believe Tesla may be still rather early in the development cycle and may indeed have rushed to unveil Model Y,” Rosner argued. “All in, we believe this event will not detract investor attention from ongoing demand/margin concerns for Tesla’s current lineup, and with 1Q19 earnings and cash flow set to be really weak, the stock could remain under pressure in the near term.”

“With this potentially bullish catalyst out of the way, we anticipate a cautious narrative to resume its course until Tesla can put to bed market concerns over near-term demand, cash flow, and liquidity,” Jones explained.

Tesla shares were trading 4.15% lower at $277.94 as of 10:30 a.m. ET.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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