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The Ratings Game: Tesla is now worth less than Exxon as stock plunges toward worst month, quarter and year in history

Tesla Inc. shares declined more than 8% on Tuesday, pushing the electric-vehicle maker’s valuation lower than oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. after the stock’s previous descent below a “critical battle line” of $150 a share. Shares of Tesla TSLA, -8.05% fell 8.1% to $141.80 on Tuesday after closing lower than $150 for the first time


Tesla Inc. shares declined more than 8% on Tuesday, pushing the electric-vehicle maker’s valuation lower than oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. after the stock’s previous descent below a “critical battle line” of $150 a share.

Shares of Tesla TSLA, -8.05% fell 8.1% to $141.80 on Tuesday after closing lower than $150 for the first time in more than two years Monday, a level that analysts said was a key test of investors’ faith in the stock. Tuesday’s decline was the worst of the day in the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.10%, and Tesla shares were also the most active on the index as they wrapped up a three-session losing streak that has wiped 12.6% off the stock collectively.

The stock is now down more than 48% this quarter, which would easily be its worst calendar quarter in history, eclipsing a 37.5% decline in the second quarter of this year. It is also down more than 29% for the month of December, which would be its worst month on record, beating a 24.6% decline in December 2010.

Tesla stock has fallen 60.9% so far in 2022 — which would also be its worst year on record — and Tesla’s market capitalization fell behind two other S&P 500 companies on Tuesday: Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.11% and Exxon Mobil XOM, +1.45%. Tesla is now the ninth most valuable equity by market cap in the S&P 500 index after previously ranking as high as No. 5 on that list, behind only Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.05%, Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.56%, Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.66% GOOG, +0.54% and Inc. AMZN, +0.32%

In-depth: Tesla investors await clues on demand, board actions and weigh downside risks in 2023

Evercore analysts Chris McNally, Doug Dutton and Isaac Avla on Tuesday chopped their price target on the electric-vehicle maker’s stock to $200 from $300 in a note, saying the company’s strengths are already appreciated by investors and that “emotional” support for the stock is breaking down.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has sold billions in stock since he bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, and has not signaled he is done selling, which the analysts noted was a contributing factor in the cut to the price target.

“We now know Elon sold another $3.5Bn and we have yet to receive the ‘all done’ tweet,” the analysts said in a note on Tuesday. “The $150-163 technical level was seen as a critical battle line to defend beyond further weakness . . . and failed.”

“Technicals are essentially emotional stock entry points and we’re now at a spot that if you bought Tesla 2 years ago, you have lost money,” they continued.

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The Evercore analysts praised Tesla’s margin profile, but said investors “are already well aware of these benefits but now must also battle test demand assumptions” for next year through 2025. They wrote that growth has stalled in China, where Tesla holds about 10% of the electric-vehicle market, and that a “partisan elephant in the room” has become tougher to ignore as Musk tweets out more right-wing rhetoric.

“Investors now fear U.S. brand damage given typical EV buyer demographics (~40% from CA, maybe 70%+ from blue states) in dwindling backlog environment,” the analysts wrote.

Opinion: Why Tesla investors are the biggest losers in Elon Musk’s Twitter deal

The remarks added to concern about shares of Tesla, which suffered their worst week since 2020 last week after Musk disclosed the sale of $3.5 billion in Tesla stock and a large investor, Leo KoGuan, called for new leadership at the electric-vehicle maker. The stock sale marked the second time Musk has unloaded a big chunk of shares of Tesla since he bought Twitter.

Other Tesla analysts this week have expressed increasing frustration with Musk’s activity on Twitter. They said his erratic rule there — which most recently included the temporary suspension of journalists, blocking links to other social platforms, and holding an online poll in which a majority of Twitter users said he should “step down as head of Twitter” — has distracted him from running Tesla. Others have expressed concern that the tumult there, along with the reinstatement of far-right accounts, risked starving the company of ad revenue.

Oppenheimer analysts on Monday downgraded Tesla stock, saying his “non-Tesla endeavors” had become difficult to separate from their analysis of Tesla. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note on Monday that Musk had been using Tesla shares as “his own personal ATM” and that his ownership of Twitter had become an “albatross” for Tesla.

“Time to end this nightmare as CEO of Twitter,” Ives wrote.

Read also: New electric car buying incentives kick in Jan. 1, and a lot has changed. Here’s an explainer.

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