Tesla Just Became The Most Valuable American Automaker Ever

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Tesla: *proves marginally profitable* Investors: "OMG BUY! BUY! BUY!"

Tesla's share price surged during Wednesday trading, nearing the $600-per-share mark in the late morning before sliding back to a slightly-more-reasonable $570 by market close. At Wednesday's peak, the electric car manufacturer's share price was up some $45 from where it stood by the end of trading the day prior, representing about an 8 percent surge.

Those numbers are, like the Model S's special high-output driving mode, ludicrous, and they've made Tesla the first US-based automaker to surpass the $100-billion mark for market capitalization. That is, the total value of all outstanding shares. Tesla, already theoretically more valuable than Ford and GM combined, has now surpassed Volkswagen to become the world's second-most-valuable automaker.

Tesla
Tesla

On the surface, that seems utterly ridiculous. Tesla has nowhere near the sales volume, capital, manufacturing footprint, sales footprint, or history of Volkswagen, which is the world's second-largest automaker by volume.

But investors are nonetheless bullish on Tesla's prospects, apparently responding to an effervescent letter from Wedbush analyst Dan Ives that, in addition to heaping praises on the California-based EV manufacturer, raised his target price from $370 to $550. Importantly, Ives maintained his "neutral" rating of Tesla shares, but Wedbush has expressed optimism regarding the company's future, noting rising EV demand in Europe and China, and the "aggressive" ramp-up in Gigafactory 3 (Shanghai) production. It only helps matters that the Tesla Model Y is slated to start deliveries next month.

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2017-2019 Tesla Model S Front View Driving Tesla
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Simultaneously, news emerged this week that Tesla has finally won a years-long legal battle to sell cars in the state of Michigan - the backyard of Detroit's Big Three automakers. A dearth of Tesla stores in America has historically been an impediment to domestic sales.

Yet despite all the fanfare, Tesla has yet to report year-end earnings for the 2019 calendar year - something that will come on January 29. But given that the automaker posted a surprise third-quarter profit, and that deliveries experienced a slight uptick in Q4, we suspect Tesla might have only good news to share.

Tesla
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