Is Tesla Overvalued? Check Out These Stunning Comparisons to GM and Ford

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Tesla is one of the market’s most active companies for stock and options traders. It could also look most expensive by various measures, but is it overvalued?

This article will address the question by comparing Elon Musk’s company with other major car makers. It will use common financial ratios and real-world numbers so you can make your own decision about Tesla shares.

MetricTeslaGeneral
Motors
Ford
Motor
Market Cap$623B$57.7B$50.7B
Enterprise Value$607B$142B$147B
Forward P/E48x6.7x7.5x
EBITDA$17.4B$17.8B$14.1B
Revenue$81.5B$156.7B$158B
Price / Revenue8.4x0.4x0.4x
Expected Revenue Growth26%3%-3.9%
Cars Sold / Year1.3M5.9M3.9M
Employees128K167K173K
U.S. Dealerships2134,0003,000
Key valuation metrics comparing Tesla, General Motors and Ford Motor. Source: TradeStation data, Yahoo Finance and company reports as of February 16, 2023.

Tesla Valuation: Market Cap

Tesla is the most valuable automaker by far. Its market capitalization (stock price times shares outstanding) of $623 billion ranks it sixth among companies on the U.S. stock market. The electric-car company is worth almost 11 times GM and over 12 times F.

However, TSLA has a much cleaner balance sheet because it carries less than $6 billion of debt. GM and F, in contrast, have over $110 billion of debt each. Market cap therefore understates the true financial size of GM and F.

This is where stock market investors often use “enterprise value” to judge the size of a company.

Enterprise Value = Market Cap + Debt - Cash

By this measure, TSLA is worth roughly 4 times General Motors and Ford Motor.

Tesla Valuation: Price / Earnings Ratio

The price / earnings ratio, or P/E, is one of the most common measures of valuation in the stock market. This is simply a company’s per-share earnings divided by its stock price. Using P/E ratio, Tesla is far more expensive than other car makers like GM and Ford.

Tesla trades for 54 times historic earnings, and 48 times estimated future earnings. That’s 6-7 times the corresponding multiples of its gasoline-powered rivals.

Price / sales, or price / revenue, is another valuation metric. Tesla trades for 8.4 times sales, which places it in the top 15 percent of companies in the S&P 500 index. GM and F, on the other hand, trade for less than 0.5 times revenue. By this measure, Tesla is worth over 17 times more.

Cash Flow Generation

Aside from earnings, analysts can also use cash flow to value Tesla shares. Cash flow adjusts net income to remove accrual accounting mechanisms and gains from investing activities. Analysts can also use cash flow to compare stock prices.

Tesla’s valuation is about 42 times cash flow by this measure. GM trades for less than 4 times cash flow and F trades for about 7 times.

Is Tesla Overpriced?

One major reason why Tesla is valued so much higher than its peers is growth. The electric-car maker increased its sales by 37 percent last year. Wall Street analysts anticipate another 26 percent of upside this year.

GM’s sales rose 28 percent last year, while F shrank by 17 percent. They’re both expected to grow less than 4 percent in 2023.

Tesla Valuation: Stores and Units

Investors can also use non-financial measures to compare Tesla with other car makers. How many cars does it sell? How many locations does it have to reach customers?

By this measure TSLA is also much more expensive than peers. It operates only 213 physical stores in the U.S. That’s about 1/19th of GM’s footprint and 1/14th of F’s reach.

2022 ChangeYTD Change
Tesla-65%+64%
General Motors-43%+28%
Ford Motor-44%+18%
Stock price changes as of February 16, 2023, according to TradeStation data.

TSLA overcomes part of this with a strong online sales model. However, it may create a potential risk over time. Traditional auto makers have much wider distribution and marketing networks across the country. This could let them get in front of a lot more customers very quickly once they start rolling out more electric models.

In conclusion, Tesla shares have high valuations based on measures like P/E ratio and price/sales. This mostly results from its strong growth versus traditional automakers like GM and F. Tesla fell more in 2022 but is now rebounding more sharply this year.

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