By Claudia Assis, MarketWatch
Tesla Inc. is as big as peak Ford Motor Co., with the Silicon Valley electric-car maker stock closing at a record on Wednesday.
Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -1.18% shares rose 4.9% to end at a record $492.14 on Wednesday, the latest in a series of ever-climbing notches that stretch back to mid-December. The shares traded as high as $498.49.
Tesla’s market capitalization has zoomed above $88 billion, beating Ford’s at its valuation peak — a market cap of $80.8 billion in 1999, the same year Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk founded a couple of tech companies, including the one that would later become PayPal Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208054269/composite PYPL -1.07% In today’s dollars, Ford’s 1999 valuation would be the equivalent of about $124 billion.
Tesla has been the No. 1 U.S. auto maker in terms of market value off and on in the recent past, but it is the first time its market cap has topped Ford’s /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F -2.61% at its highest valuation. Ford is currently valued at more than $36 billion, and General Motors Co. /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -2.58% is valued at $50 billion.
Tesla’s stock rally got a boost last week when the company reported above-expectations fourth-quarter deliveries, its proxy for sales.
By Tuesday morning, Musk made meme-ready waves by pulling some dance moves while heralding a “very exciting future” for Tesla in China to the tune of “More Than You Know” by Axwell Ingrosso.
Tesla was showcasing the delivery of the first Model 3 sedans made at the company’s plant in the Shanghai area.
Investors do not yet know the date of Tesla’s reporting fourth-quarter results, expected for late January or early February.
Analysts polled by FactSet expect the car maker to report an adjusted profit of $1.53 a share on sales of $6.9 billion. That would compare with fourth-quarter 2018 profit of $1.93 a share on sales of $7.2 billion.
On Tuesday, analyst Bill Selesky of Argus Research raised his price target on Tesla shares to $556, among the highest on Wall Street. Credit Suisse analysts also raised their price target on the stock this week, to $340 from $200.
Despite being under the current share price, the new price target “gives Tesla credit in multiple ways,” the analysts said. “Even with all that Tesla stock appears rich,” they said. The analysts, led by Dan Levy, kept the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock.
Tesla shares have gained 47% in the past 12 months, compared with advances of 26% and 21% for the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.49% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.32%