1-Star Stocks Poised to Plunge: Tesla Motors?

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Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors (NAS: TSLA) has received the dreaded one-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at Tesla's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

Teslafacts

Headquarters (Founded)Palo Alto, Calif. (2003)
Market Cap$3.25 billion
IndustryAutomobile manufacturers
Trailing-12-Month Revenue$201.2 million
Management

Co-Founder/Chairman/CEO Elon Musk

CFO Deepak Ahuja

Trailing-12-Month Return on Capital(34.8%)
Cash/Debt$278.4 million / $226.0 million
Competitors

Ford (NYS: F)

General Motors (NYS: GM)

Toyota (NYS: TM)

Sources: S&P Capital IQ and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 49% of the 735 members who have rated Tesla believe the stock will underperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bears include 1technowizard and fabfabman.

This past summer, 1technowizard tapped Tesla as an untimely opportunity:

Economic incentives can't overcome a bad business model. When someone develops a low cost, fast charging battery, the equation changes. Until then, Tesla is selling a dream as practical as a jet pack. At least for the next 5-10 years, hybrids will be the dominant game changing technology.

Currently, Tesla even trades at a particularly lofty price-to-sales ratio of 18.6. That represents a massive premium to other auto plays like GM (0.3), Ford (0.3), and Toyota (0.4).

CAPS member fabfabman elaborates on the bear case:

When I look at the company financials, I don't understand how they plan to make money. Like Solyndra, Tesla has been heavily subsidized with gov money. Like Solyndra, Tesla plans to generate positive margins by (a) lowering production costs as battery technology matures (b) economies of scale. Per Tesla's presentations, only by means of state and federal carbon credit sales to other car manufacturers, Tesla can generate positive margins on vehicle sales. This is for both the Roadster and the Model S. Ouch!

Tesla has some unique IP and supplies good technology to other car manufacturers (Toyota and others), which however do not justify its market cap.

What do you think about Tesla, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to protect your portfolio from any undue risk. Staying away from dangerous stocks is crucial to securing your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to flag them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Interested in another easy way to track Tesla? Add it to your watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford and GM. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool's disclosure policy always gets a perfect score.

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