Tesla shares fall as Deutsche Bank flags risks from focus on Robotaxi

(Reuters) – Tesla shares fell to their lowest in more than a year on Thursday after Deutsche Bank raised concerns over the electric automaker’s increasing focus on its autonomous vehicle products when profit is under pressure.

The Elon Musk-led company’s shares fell 2.7% to $151.26 after the brokerage downgraded the stock to “Hold” and cut its price target to $123 from $189.

The brokerage’s commentary follows Reuters report earlier this month that Tesla decided to cancel its long-promised inexpensive car that investors hoped would drive growth, while continuing to develop Robotaxis on the same vehicle platform.

Tesla has been pushing for greater adoption of its full self-driving advanced driver assistance software ahead of unveiling Robotaxi in August.

The brokerage said cracking the code on full driverless autonomy represents a significant technological, regulatory and operational challenge.

“The delay of Model 2 efforts creates the risk of no new vehicle in Tesla’s consumer lineup for the foreseeable future, which would put downward pressure on its volume and pricing for many more years,” Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner said.

As profitability takes a hit from price cuts to boost demand for its electric vehicles, Tesla earlier this week laid off more than 10% of its global workforce even as it continues to try to revive Musk’s huge pay deal from 2018.

The company has asked its shareholders to reaffirm their approval of Musk’s $56 billion pay that was set in 2018, but was rejected by a Delaware judge in January.

Tesla shares fell to its lowest in nearly 15 months on Thursday, after shedding 37.4% of their value so far this year, making it the second worst-performing stock on the S&P 500 index.

Its market capitalization is set to fall by more than $17 billion to about $478 billion, if losses hold. Still the company remains the most valuable automaker in the world.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)