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Tesla's aggressive growth plans drives stock price higher

Elon Musk owns Tesla Motors and Space Exploration

Elon Musk owns Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies. This photo is from March 9, 2013. Credit: AP / Jack Plunkett

Tesla Motors Inc. rose to the highest in more than five months on Monday after a Deutsche Bank AG analyst raised his target price and rating for the electric-car maker’s shares, citing his expectation for faster growth.

Shares of the company led by Elon Musk advanced 4.9 percent to $260.27 in early afternoon trading on Wall Street. Tesla is listed on the Nasdaq composite. Earlier shares traded as high as $263.74, the highest since Feb. 26, days after Musk announced plans to build a battery Gigafactory intended to help the company get cheaper lithium-ion cells for its electric cars.

The automaker has set a goal of accelerating its annual production capacity to 50,000 cars by the end of 2014 and doubling that to a 100,000-unit production pace late next year. Tesla plans to expand sales by boosting shipments of its Model S sedan, priced from $71,000 in the United States, to China and other international markets and adding the Model X electric sport-utility vehicle in early 2015.

“Tesla suggested that their growth trajectory will be much steeper, their mix will be much richer, and their costs will ultimately be much lower than we previously assumed,” Rod Lache, the analyst, said Monday in a report, where he cited comments from Tesla’s July 31 earnings call.

Lache raised his target price for the stock to $310 from $220. Next year Tesla may deliver 60,000 cars and 100,000 in 2016, 18 percent and 67 percent more, respectively, than he previously expected, said Lache, who also now rates Palo Alto, California-based Tesla a buy, up from a hold.

On Aug. 6,  Adam Jonas, an equity analyst for Morgan Stanley, who rates Tesla the equivalent of a buy, said he expects demand for the Model X to be greater than that for the Model S. Jonas has a $320 target price for Tesla shares.

“Despite the success of the Model S, we think Model X has the potential to be far more successful and a much better value,” Jonas said in the report. “Some in the market have described Tesla as a ‘one hit wonder’ with the Model S. We expect the Model X will put that to rest very, very quickly.”

Tesla said last month it has begun preparing a potential site for the Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada, as it continues to evaluate alternative sites in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

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