Today: Tesla rolls to yet another record as analyst predicts shares will eventually reach $400. Also: Apple also sets more new highs despite celebrity hacking scandal.
The Lead: More analyst optimism, more Wall Street records for Tesla
Tesla Motors hit yet another gear Tuesday on Wall Street, jumping to record highs as an analyst predicted the company's true value is far higher.
Tesla gained 5.3 percent from record prices set after a deal to expand infrastructure in China was announced Friday, with shares closing at $284.05. Tuesday's improvement added to an increase of more than 20 percent in August, when optimistic predictions for the Palo Alto car company's next all-electric offering, the Model X, helped provoke a record ride.
Tuesday's catalyst was the most optimistic prediction yet for Tesla: Stifel Nicolaus analyst James Albertine predicted that Tesla shares will ascend to $400 thanks to its growth potential and the bullish nature of its backers.
"Tesla sentiment is like a freight train, in our view, benefiting from a well manicured growth story that has caught the eye of a much broader investor base relative to most auto stocks," the analyst wrote. "Tesla has positioned itself as the smart vehicle of the future, with a glimpse into smart purchasing and smart infrastructure."
Albertine wrote that he toured Tesla's Fremont factory, which recently received upgrades meant to increase production and prepare for the Model X, and saw changes he deemed "staggering." The analyst predicted that Tesla's renewed production line is on track to pump out 1,000 cars a day by the end of the year.
Albertine had a "Hold" rating on Tesla for more than a year before switching that to a "Buy" on Tuesday, though he still has reservations about the company's ability to live up to his high expectations. Those concerns are ameliorated, though, by the lack of true competition from larger automobile companies in terms of viable, all-electric luxury cars.
"It appears Tesla's primary competition remains reluctant to fully dedicate the resources necessary for developing a suitable Model S/X competitor with 200-300 miles of EV range," Albertine wrote.
Tesla stock jumped nearly 500 percent in 2013, as the Model S found strong demand and helped the company's annual revenues more than triple. Tesla plans to begin selling the Model X, a crossover SUV-style auto, in 2015 and hopes to launch a more affordable sedan known as the Model 3 in 2017.
SV150 market report: Apple helps push Silicon Valley to gains
While Wall Street struggled to a small decline after the long Labor Day weekend, Silicon Valley tech stocks maintained their momentum from August, as Apple joined Tesla in continued record-breaking gains.
Apple overcame a widely publicized hack that stole celebrities' personal photos to post its seventh record high in the past nine trading sessions, moving as high as $103.74 before closing with a 0.8 percent gain at $103.30. Analysts are laser-focused on the Cupertino company's Sept. 9 launch event, which Apple confirmed for Cupertino's Flint Center with an invitation sent last week, and seem excited about reports Apple will launch a new mobile-payments option. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted there was a 70 percent chance Apple would show off mobile-payment technology at the event and increased his price target from $105 to $120, writing that Apple will show off "new products and services that will likely give investors optimism that the platform theme is expanding." Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, meanwhile, predicted that "the next few months will prove to be the most exciting new product launch for Apple in many years."
Google gained 1.1 percent to $588.63 after rebranding its enterprise products as Google at Work, part of the Mountain View company's efforts to boost its offerings for businesses. Netflix dropped 0.2 percent to $476.60 after introducing a revamped sharing interface that controls what Facebook friends see a users' viewing habits; Facebook challenged its all-time high on the day and gained 2.5 percent to $76.68. Accusations that Yelp extorted local businesses were shot down by a court ruling that affirmed dismissal of a class-action lawsuit, and the San Francisco company's stock rose 3.1 percent to $84.96. eBay received some relief from legal issues as its antitrust deal stemming from Silicon Valley's no-poaching case was accepted by a judge; the San Jose e-commerce giant still sank 1.2 percent to $54.88. San Francisco big-data software company Splunk continued a resurgence, adding 11.1 percent to $59.93, while Livermore's FormFactor led the SV150 with a 19.5 percent gain to $8.41 after increasing expectations for its financial performance. After trading closed, Guidewire Software jumped more than 10 percent after announcing quarterly profits of $19.8 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $118.2 million.
Up: Splunk, Tesla, GoPro, Zynga, Yelp, Facebook, Pandora, Yahoo, Gilead, Salesforce, Google
Down: SanDisk, SolarCity, Workday, eBay, Intel, Applied Materials
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 10.17, or 0.62 percent, to 1,639
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 17.92, or 0.39 percent, to 4,598.19
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 30.89, or 0.18 percent, to 17,067.56
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 1.09, or 0.05 percent, to 2,002.28