Tesla Is Still an Auto Stock Despite the AI Hype, Analyst Says

(Bloomberg) — A long-time Tesla Inc. bull poured water on investors’ hopes that the electric-vehicle maker’s shares can get a sizable lift from the artificial intelligence frenzy that has triggered a surge in some technology stocks.

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While it is “tempting to speak in platitudes about Tesla’s AI chops,” the stock’s direction will be dominated by the supply and demand of electric cars over the next 12 months, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who has had a buy-equivalent rating on the EV maker since November 2020, wrote in a note on Thursday.

“With such an expansive total addressable market (TAM), Tesla can be considered many things. But we think it’s an auto company,” Jonas wrote.

While the company’s shares have got a mild boost amid a rally fueled by some tech stocks over the past few weeks as investors clamored for anything related to generative AI, the gains are much more muted compared to that of Nvidia Corp., C3.ai Inc. or Marvell Technology Inc.

Though Tesla is developing several technologies that fall under the broader umbrella of AI — such as self-driving software and Optimus robot — autonomous driving and generative AI are two very different technologies, he added.

Still, AI or not, Tesla shares have risen significantly this year, gaining over 68%, eclipsing the Nasdaq 100 Index’s 32% advance and even surpassing NYSE FANG+ Index’s 64% jump. However, this year’s rise in Tesla stock has come on the back of a 65% plunge in 2022, which was the shares’ worst annual performance ever.

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