Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA): Does The Junk Credit Rating Matter?

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May 29, 2014 12:36pm NYSE:GEX NYSE:PEZ

in focus spotlightTesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) had a good week. From the close of trading on Wednesday, May 21, to the close of trading Wednesday, May 28, the stock rose 5.41 percent, easily beating the Dow, Nasdaq, and the S&P 500.

Panasonic (OTC: PCRFY) now appears to be firmly on board as a partner in Tesla’s future gigafactories.

Last Friday, a spokesperson for Panasonic said the company wants to be the sole provider of lithium-ion battery cells for the gigafactories.

Tesla has previously said that it had signed a letter of intent with Panasonic for that company to participate in the gigafactories, but the recent statement appears to be the strongest sign of Panasonic’s commitment so far.

Nothing is likely to happen quickly, though, as Panasonic said that it does not expect to make any large investments this year.

Meanwhile, states continue to hope that they will be selected as the site for Tesla’s first gigafactory, which will bring considerable money and jobs into its chosen state.

Last Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that the Mather Airport Business Park in Sacramento, California, is one of the sites under consideration.

It’s a long shot, though. CEO Elon Musk has previously said that it was “sort of improbable” that Tesla would choose California for the gigafactory site, even though Tesla is based in California, because he wants to start construction quickly, and he doubts that California could get the approvals and permits ready in time.

Besides California, the other states under consideration are Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas.

In a bit of bad news, Standard & Poor’s credit rating service gave Tesla an unsolicited junk credit rating on Tuesday, saying that it believes “there is considerable uncertainty in Tesla’s long-term prospects.”

S&P rated Tesla’s credit a B-, which is several grades below investment quality, a rating that S&P called “stable.”

USA Today pointed out that the rating might not be so bad for Tesla because poor bond ratings are common for automobile manufacturers.

General Motors (NYSE: GM), for example, has a BB+ rating, which puts its long-term debt in the “junk” category.

Ford (NYSE: F) has a rating of BBB-, which is only slightly higher than GM’s and is just barely hanging on to investment grade.

The news of S&P’s rating of Tesla does not seem to have had much effect on TSLA’s stock price, which rose 2.05 percent on Tuesday, drifted down 0.62 percent on Wednesday, and is currently up slightly for the day so far.

PowerShares DWA Consumer Cyclicals Momentum Portfolio — PEZ

To invest in TSLA without the risk of investing in an individual stock, consider an ETF such as PEZ, which tracks the DWA Consumer Cyclicals Technical Leaders Index.

The Index focuses on momentum stocks.

PEZ has 3.63 percent of its holdings in TSLA.

Its largest holding is The Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), which comprises 7.77 percent of its portfolio, followed by TRW Automotive Holdings Corp (NYSE: TRW), comprising 7.27 percent.

By Michelle Cook, ETF Daily News

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