Treat Tesla like it’s a Chinese tech stock because of how much profit it’s making there, Morgan Stanley says

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Tesla shares will behave like a Chinese-listed tech stock for the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley.

  • Tesla will behave like a Chinese tech stock for the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley.
  • Up to half of the electric carmaker’s profitability comes from sales in China, the bank said.
  • Tesla and Chinese tech stocks have both fallen sharply this year as recession fears intensify.

Tesla rakes in so much of its profits from Chinese sales that it will behave like a tech stock listed on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng or the Shanghai Composite index until at least 2030, according to Morgan Stanley.

The electric carmaker is likely to find itself closely tethered to the price movements of China’s tech stocks because up to half of its profits come from that country, its analysts said in a Monday research note.

“We estimate Tesla generates as much as one-half of its profitability from the Chinese market, arguably making the stock a derivative of a Chinese tech stock,” the team led by equity analyst Adam Jonas said.

Beijing’s zero-COVID policy of lockdowns and a crisis in the country’s property market have dragged on the Chinese economy this year. This week’s reading of third-quarter GDP growth of 3.9% year-on-year puts the economy on track to fall well below the Communist Party’s 5.5% target for the year.

On Monday, Tesla slashed the price of its Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles by 9% in China, as businesses start fretting about a potential recession.

That could weigh further on the EV maker’s stock price, which as of Monday’s close has dropped 4.9% since its  earnings report Wednesday. The update showed Tesla missed its revenue and delivery targets in the third quarter.

“Price cuts announced by Tesla China may affect already-weak market sentiment,” Morgan Stanley said.

Recession fears among investors have been weighing on Chinese tech stocks, and the sector-tracking KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF has plummeted 48% this year so far.

Another factor is that Tesla’s reliance on sales in China makes it vulnerable to a rise in geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington, Morgan Stanley said.

A cooling in relations between the US and China have weighed on exposed assets this year. Chinese semiconductor stocks fell sharply earlier in October, after the Biden administration introduced export controls. These limit the sale of chips made with US technology to sellers who have been given a verified export license only.

Tesla will likely be reliant on its sales in China until at least 2030, the Morgan Stanley team said. That leaves it exposed, if the trade war between the US and China intensifies.

“The broader arc of Sino-US economic relations and the evolving geopolitical situation will continue to add volatility to Tesla shares,” the bank said.

“Our forecasts through 2030 become gradually less China-dependent, but this takes time.”

Read more: Elon Musk’s Tesla slashes car prices by 9% in China as its economy struggles and buyers look like backing away

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