Want EV exposure? One analyst says he’s giving Tesla a miss — and reveals his top pick instead

Tesla may be the first name that pops to mind when it comes to electric vehicles, but analyst Richard Windsor says there are much more effective ways to get exposure to the sector. Windsor says Tesla’s share price is set for further volatility ahead — and investors have no choice but to accept Musk as an inevitable source of that volatility. It comes after Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said last month he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and announced plans to slash rhe company’s workforce by about 10% . His email came amid a growing chorus of warnings from corporate leaders that a recession is on the horizon. “I take [Musk’s comments] to mean: I’m worried about inflation. I’m worried about demand for vehicles because people have got less money to spend. And I think perhaps that was the source of [the message]. I think it was more around the fundamentals and not so much the share price, given how volatile that share price has been for quite some time,” Windsor, founder of research firm Radio Free Mobile, told CNBC. Shares in Tesla are down more than 30% this year, as investors rotate out of growth and into value names, as the likelihood of a steep rate hiking cycle — which makes growth stocks’ future earnings less attractive — hit home. The stock has also been impacted by Covid-19 shutdowns that impacted production in China, supply chain disruptions and uncertainty surrounding Musk’s takeover of Twitter. Another driver of volatility is Tesla’s valuation relative to its competitors, according to Windsor. “If you compare its valuation to the other carmakers, it doesn’t make any fundamental sense if you look at the assumptions you have to get to justify Tesla’s share price. When you’ve got that, it’s more about the narrative that drives a stock which again is part of the volatility,” he said. Getting exposure to EVs It’s not just Tesla that Windsor is steering clear of for exposure to EVs — he’s avoiding the automotive sector entirely. He believes that traditional automakers offer “almost negligible” exposure to the sector on any “rational investment horizon within five years.” “Instead, they offer exposure to petrol vehicle demand which will be determined by macro-economic factors. The analysts are not basing their views on fundamentals but rather, narrative which is only good as long as sentiment holds,” Windsor told CNBC Pro in a separate interview. “Hence, if you want exposure to EV fundamentals on a 5-year time frame, the traditional automakers do not offer significant exposure and therefore should not be considered.” Top pick Windsor’s top pick instead for EV exposure is California-based solid-state lidar maker Ouster , which he said has “real revenues unlike almost all its peers.” Lidar — which is short for light detection and ranging — is a sensor technology that allows mapping of a car’s surroundings. It has applications in partially or fully autonomous vehicles. But lidar usage is now seeping into conventional vehicles, with applications in common safety features such as lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking. Shares in Ouster closed at around $2 on Jun. 8, but Windsor said he remains “very comfortable” holding the stock until it hits at least $8.50 a share — that’s more than 300% from current levels.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is trying to buy Twitter and manage multiple companies at the same time.
James Glover II | Reuters

Tesla may be the first name that pops to mind when it comes to electric vehicles, but analyst Richard Windsor says there are much more effective ways to get exposure to the sector.

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