Tesla Surpasses Ford in Market Value

Shares of Tesla were up sharply after the electric-vehicle maker reported a record number of deliveries for the first quarter: 25,000 vehicles.

by Levi Sumagaysay, Mercury News / April 4, 2017

(TNS) — Tesla, the new American car company, has surpassed Ford — a pioneering American car company that's 100 years older — in market value.

Shares of Tesla were up sharply after the electric-vehicle maker on Sunday reported a record number of deliveries for the first quarter: 25,000 vehicles, up 69 percent for the year-ago quarter. The Palo Alto company said first-quarter production, of 25,418 vehicles, also set a record.

Tesla shares also got a boost last week after Chinese internet company Tencent revealed it had bought a 5 percent stake in the company. Tencent gushed that "Tesla is a global pioneer at the forefront of new technologies including electric vehicles, assisted driving, shared vehicles, digitizing real-world information, sustainable energy generation and scalable energy storage."

Tesla stock shot up more than 7 percent Monday, bringing its market capitalization to $48.69 billion. Ford's market cap is at $45.31 billion. General Motors could be the next U.S. car company Tesla might aim to surpass in market value: It's at $51.11 billion.

Tesla's encouraging first-quarter numbers come as it prepares to start production of the Model 3, its cheapest car yet, this summer. The sedan, with a price starting at $35,000, has almost 400,000 pre-orders from people who plunked down $1,000 for reservations last year.

Tesla may have surpassed Ford in market value, but Ford dwarfs Tesla in other measures.

Tesla, the Silicon Valley electric-car maker co-founded by entrepreneur extraordinaire Elon Musk, had $7 billion in revenue in 2016, and reported a surprise profit of $21.9 million in the third quarter. It has never made a yearly profit. Ford, the Detroit automaker started by the legendary Henry Ford, brought in $151.8 billion in revenue last year, and posted a profit of $4.6 billion.

This obvious comparison has led to criticism of Tesla.

"Its market cap is based on hype and promises versus substance," said David Cole, an investor in Detroit automakers, and chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Musk heard sentiment along the same lines on Twitter, too. The Tesla CEO tweeted in response Monday afternoon: "Tesla is absurdly overvalued if based on the past, but that's irrelevant. A stock price represents risk-adjusted future cash flows."

Both companies, born a century apart, are working on electric vehicles and autonomous-vehicle technology. A new report by Navigant Research published Monday says Ford is ahead of Tesla and others in the self-driving car race.

©2017 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.