(Bloomberg) -- For the first time in more than seven years, Morgan Stanley is recommending selling Tesla Inc. shares.
Optimism around the electric-car maker’s core business growth in China is now priced into the stock, analysts led by Adam Jonas wrote in a note. They also slashed their valuation of the firm’s mobility unit, citing a legal and regulatory environment that’s unsupportive of a robo-taxi network roll-out.
Tesla’s stock price has more than doubled since the beginning of October, helped by a surprise third-quarter profit, strong deliveries and quick construction of a factory in China. Morgan Stanley’s downgrade comes at a time when the rally has left analysts’ consensus price target in the dust.
“Near-term momentum and sentiment around the stock is admittedly very strong, but we ultimately question the sustainability of the momentum,” Morgan Stanley said. While the analysts raised their price target to $360 from $250, that still implies about a 30% downside from Wednesday’s close.
Tesla fell 2.3% in pre-market trading Thursday, setting the stock up for a second straight day of losses. Shares have gained 24% this year through Wednesday.
Morgan Stanley last had an underweight rating on Tesla in September 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock has risen about 1,600% since then.
The bank is far from being the only Tesla bear -- there are 15 others with a sell rating on the stock among those surveyed by Bloomberg, with 10 assigning buy ratings and 10 hold. The company overtook Apple Inc. as the most-shorted U.S. stock on Wednesday.
While Tesla deserves to be among the world’s most valuable auto companies, given its electric vehicle leadership, “investors will be presented with more attractive opportunities to own the stock in the future,” Morgan Stanley added.
--With assistance from Lisa Pham.
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