Tesla sales in China jump 450% as it bounces back from coronavirus

Stock surges 28% in two days as traders look beyond the disruption

BEIJING — U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla's China car registrations jumped 450% in March, month on month, data from auto consultancy LMC Automotive showed.

Tesla's China registrations rose to 12,709 units in March from 2,314 in February.

Overall auto sales in China plunged 43.4% in March, as a coronavirus pandemic continued to depress demand, industry data showed. But Tesla was aggressive about reopening its Shanghai factory on Feb. 10 after a coronavirus closure. Tesla's lone U.S. plant is closed and expected to remain so until May 4.

Tesla, which started delivering cars from its Shanghai factory last year, said last week it has started China sales of two more Model 3 variants built at its Shanghai plant.

Shares of Tesla surged 12% on Tuesday after Credit Suisse upgraded its rating on the electric carmaker and as Wall Street rallied on optimism the coronavirus outbreak was reaching a plateau.

Tesla stock has jumped 28% in the past two days as investors look beyond disruptions caused by the pandemic, which has forced Tesla to close its California factory, furlough workers and cut salaries.

Credit Suisse raised its rating on Tesla to "neutral" from "underperform," saying short-term changes in demand related to the outbreak will distract traditional automakers like General Motors  and Ford in their gradual transition toward electric vehicles.

"Coronavirus disruption will make it more difficult for legacy automakers to balance the long-term shift (to electric vehicles) in the face of near-term cycle disruption," Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy wrote in a research note.

Levy raised his target price by $165 to $580, compared to Tesla's price of $733 on Tuesday.

Tesla's stock has doubled from its March low and remains down 20% from its record high close in February, before fears about the coronavirus' impact on the global economy triggered a deep stock market sell-off.

The S&P 500 rallied 2.6% on Tuesday as some U.S. states developed plans to reopen their economies, and the stock benchmark remains down about 16% from its Feb. 19 record high.

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