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Tesla shares up ahead of earnings

The Associated Press

Tesla Motors Inc.'s shares jumped Monday following a major engineering hire and ahead of the electric car maker's earnings on Wednesday.

THE SPARK: Tesla said Monday that it has hired Chris Porritt, chief engineer of vehicle engineering at Aston Martin, to be its vice president of vehicle engineering.

Tesla noted that Porritt brings decades of technical design and leadership experience, having built Aston Martin's engineering team from the ground up and helping design Aston Martin's famed One-77 supercar.

Tesla's stock also benefited from increasing expectations ahead of its first-quarter earnings report, which is expected Wednesday after the market closes.

THE BIG PICTURE: The electric car company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is a technology-focused company that could benefit from a strong engineering team.

The company has enjoyed some acclaim for its Model S, which went on sale last summer. It is preparing for the 2014 debut of its second vehicle, the Model X SUV.

While investors are bullish on Tesla, it still faces a huge obstacle: the lack of an electric vehicle infrastructure on U.S. roads. It has built a number of supercharging stations and plans to add to that in coming years.

THE ANALYSIS: Barclays analyst Brian A. Johnson said there is a need to think like a venture capitalist to value Tesla, given its position in a nascent market.

The analyst said he remains skeptical about the company's long-term prospects, but believes if it continues to target a niche luxury market, it could perform well. Johnson raised his price target to $65 from $38.

SHARE ACTION: Shares jumped $4.95, a 9 percent increase, to close at $59.50 and continued to rise in after-hours trading. It stock hit a 52-week trading high of $59.66 earlier in the day. Tesla's stock value has increased roughly 87 percent since this time last year.