Tesla Hosts a Model S Event. Here’s What That Means for the Stock.

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Tesla Model S

Courtesy Tesla

Electric-vehicle pioneer Tesla will livestream its Model S Plaid delivery event Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

Tesla (ticker: TSLA) events are a big deal—much like Apple (AAPL) product announcements, but for car enthusiasts. And they can move Tesla stock.

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Tesla shares could use a positive catalyst. The stock is down about 15% year to date, trailing the comparable gains of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average. What’s more, shares are down 33% from their January 52-week high. Lately, good news—such as new product launches—has been battling bad news—such as more EV competition coming from traditional auto companies.

The original Model S was delivered in June 2012 at an invitation-only event.

The market reacted to that event with a yawn, and shares were essentially unchanged afterward. A month later, shares were down 6%. Three months later, shares were down 11%. But a year after the event, when Tesla delivered its first production sedan, the stock was up almost 200%, to about $20.

Tesla held a Model 3 delivery event in July 2017, when shares were about $67. They didn’t do much the days following the event. A month later the stock was up 4%, but three months later, it was down to about $64. A year after initial Model 3 deliveries, shares were down about 11%, to $60.

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There are delivery events and unveiling events. Tesla isn’t delivering its Cybertruck yet, but it revealed the truck in November 2019 when the stock was about $67 a share. Shares rose about 22% and 170% one and three months, repsectively, after the reveal. A year later, shares were up about 635%.

Of course, the Cybertruck can’t take all the credit, or even most of it: Around the same time, Tesla started consistently producing profits and free cash flow.

Tesla unveiled its semitruck and new roadster in December 2017. Shares rose about 2% following that reveal. But one and three months later, the stock was down compared with the share price–about $68–at the event. A year later, Tesla shares were up about 11%.

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For Tesla stock, the Model S Plaid delivery event is probably more like the semi truck event than the original Model S release. The Plaid is an important vehicle with impressive technology. But with a price tag of more than $120,000, it won’t sell a lot of units. Investors expect Tesla to sell 800,000 to 900,000 vehicles around the world in 2021.

Still, the product, if successful, will demonstrate Tesla can reinvigorate sales of older models.

Investors and interested watchers can tune into the company’s YouTube channel shortly before the event begins.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com

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