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Tesla Motors Looks To The Future With $5 Billion Battery Factory

Tesla Motors Looks To The Future With $5 Billion Battery Factory

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced on Wednesday, February 26, that it plans to offer a $1.6 billion convertible debt offering to help finance its highly-anticipated “gigafactory.” According to Tesla's official blog, the gigafactory is intended to produce more lithium ion batteries on an annual basis in 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013. The gigafactory is a key part of Tesla's plans to go mainstream.

The estimated cost of this first-of-a-kind factory is estimated to be $5 billion. According to Forbes, Tesla plans to invest upwards of $2 billion by 2020, with partners and potential strategic investors such as Panasonic covering the remaining costs. The factory is expected to employ 6,500 workers and according to The Phoenix Business Journal, the company is considering locating its factory in Arizona and other places in the Southwest. 

Tesla intends to power its factory with solar and wind power and needs up to 1,000 acres of space, leading Forbes to speculate possible locations could also include New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Tesla is likely to maintain a factory close to its head offices in California to minimize transportation costs.

Tesla is expecting the gigafactory to produce enough batteries for 500,000 vehicles by 2020. Tesla delivered only 22,477 vehicles in 2013, but the gigafactory is needed because the company will introduce its “mass affordable” Gen III electric vehicle, priced at $30,000 to $40,000.

Related: Tesla Plans Boosting Lithium ETF (LIT, TSLA, ROC, FMC, SQM)

Craig Irwin, analyst at Wedbush, views Tesla's gigafactory as playing a large part in the company's future success. Irwin raised his price target on shares to $295 from a previous $253, while reiterating an Outperform rating. To derive at the $295 price target, Irwin uses a 30.0x multiple on his estimated fiscal 2017 EPS of $12.00, discounting back two years using a 10.0 percent discount rate.

Irwin says a two-year discount period is appropriate given new information on Tesla's gigafactory, which was not widely available in the past. A 30.0x multiple is “fair” as Irwin expects Tesla to double its earnings by that point. 2017 estimates are appropriate to use. as that is the first year that the Gen III vehicles are expected to scale.

“We see strong positives in Tesla's credible path to longer-term battery cost reduction and the Gen-III vehicle target costs, and what we believe will be a receptive buying public willing to purchase EVs while retaining reasonable expectations for these vehicles,” Irwin wrote in a note to clients on February 27. “Tesla's multi-year lead over credible competition suggests the company is well positioned to deliver an aggressive volume ramp.”


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