SEATTLE -- Investors in electric car company and Wall Street darling Tesla were burned today to the tune of a 6.2% share price drop after a YouTube video showed a Model S sedan blazing after an accident near Seattle.
Shares in Tesla Motors shed $12.05 to close at $180.95 for the stock's biggest one-day decline since July 16. In after-hours trading, the shares fell another 1.3% to $178.55.
The video posted on YouTube shows the front of the Tesla Model S in flames. It was first posted on car fan site Jalopnik which wrote that it came from a reader. Tesla shares have risen more than 400% since the start of the year so the damage to the stock, unlike to the car in the video, was minor.
The incident happened Tuesday after 8 a.m. as the driver was traveling southbound on state Route 167, said Trooper Chris Webb of the Washington State Patrol. He said the driver stated that he believed he had struck some debris on the highway, triggering the fire, but a trooper who responded to the scene was unable to locate any objects on the roadway.
There were no injuries, and the vehicle was towed away, Webb said.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Tesla said the fire was caused by "substantial damage" to the car when the driver hit a large metal object in the road. The flames, the company said, were contained to the front of the $70,000 vehicle due to its design and construction.
"All indications are that the fire never entered the interior cabin of the car. It was extinguished on-site by the Fire Department," the statement said.
Adding fuel to the stock drop today was a rare downgrade on the stock by an analyst who wrote that that there's limited short-term upside for the company.
R.W. Baird analyst Ben Kallo downgraded the stock from "Outperform" to "Neutral," telling investors that while he's still bullish on Tesla's long-term prospects, the company has "significant milestones" during the next 18 months that come with risk.
He wrote that those milestones include the need to increase production of the Model S and to roll out the promised Model X SUV.
"We believe solid execution on both of these fronts is already priced into the stock, and any hiccups in execution present stock price risk in the near to immediate term," Kallo wrote.
Also, he has found that investor sentiment toward the company has shifted to neutral or slightly negative as investors believe the stock is now valued fairly. The change in investor opinion, he wrote, shows itself in a rise in the number of investors who are short-selling Tesla's stock. That's risen from 15.7% of the outstanding shares on May 31 to 17.8% as of Aug. 30.
Kallo set a set a $187 one-year price target, and also told investors that completion of the company's nationwide fast-charger network, successful international expansion, and its battery technology could be opportunities for further growth. But Kallo said he believes many of the factors also are already reflected in the stock price.
A Tesla spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the company doesn't comment on analyst research.