Tesla inches toward blue-chip status

Big league: A Tesla dealership in California. Moody’s boosted Tesla to the highest junk rating, citing improving profitability and business-scale prospects. — Bloomberg

TEXAS: Moody’s Investors Service Inc’s move to ramp up Tesla Inc’s credit rating to the cusp of investment grade is bolstering expectations that the famous electric vehicle maker will secure blue-chip status as soon as early next year.

The agency boosted Tesla by two notches to the highest junk rating of Ba1 on Monday, citing improving profitability and business-scale prospects.

Bloomberg Intelligence credit analyst Joel Levington projects Tesla will now enter the big league of high-grade issuers within 12 to 18 months.

“Maintenance of current performance may be enough for additional Tesla upgrades at Moody’s,” he wrote in a note Tuesday.

Levington estimates Tesla currently has US$8.2bil (RM34.36bil) of debt outstanding.

“Moody’s expects Tesla’s financial policy to be prudent,” the credit assessor wrote in a Monday statement.

“Financial leverage steadily declined as earnings accelerated and Tesla repaid about US$5bil (RM20.95bil) of debt in the last two years.”

It estimates that leverage, a key measure of debt to earnings, dropped below one time at the end 2021, and will remain at that level in 2022.

Companies that rise from junk to investment grade typically benefit from cheaper financing by attracting a deeper pool of investors.

There could be another US$169bil (RM708.19bil) wave of such rising stars by 2023, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Moody’s also sees potential for another ratings boost even as industry competition heats up.

“The ratings could be upgraded if Tesla successfully expands its global footprint, maintains a strong competitive global presence as other automakers offer an increasing number of battery electric models, and improves its product breadth,” the agency wrote.

Tesla reported earnings yesterday after the market close.

Its stock tumbled as much as 2.9% in the broad market volatility on Tuesday. — Bloomberg

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