Is Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) a Bubble?

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In his May market commentary Bill Gross of PIMCO compared the risk of investing today to a Sweeney Todd haircut. Losing one’s head in the market isn’t a very promising outlook, but you can’t collect dividends if you aren’t invested. Gross suggests that investors “gradually reduce risk positions in 2013.” Here are some ways to do that with a perpetually in-demand commodity.

A Bubble

Bill Gross’ May commentary is as flowery as usual. In the end, he is suggesting that the best way for investors to avoid losing money in the current market is to simply get out. Why? He believes that we are in a “central-bank-generated bubble.” The market hovering near all time highs is just one sign of the froth.

For a more specific example, take a look at Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’ recent price advance. To be sure, the company’s move from red ink to black ink could be the start of a long run of success. However, based on the stock’s recent price in the $90 a share range, it is wildly overvalued compared to its automotive brethren.

High Flying

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) both trade with price to earnings multiples in the high single digits. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) lost almost $2.70 a share over the last year, so its trailing P/E is still meaningless. If it were to match the P/E range of Ford and GM, it would need to earn around $8 a share over the next 12 months (that would be its forward P/E). It earned $0.10 a share in the first quarter, so $8 is likely a long way off.

Gross admits that sitting on cash isn’t the best way to make money and, thus, recommends that investors continue to invest, but that they start to pull back on riskier positions. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) looks like one of those stocks headed for a Sweeney Todd style haircut. Investors lucky enough to have taken the ride up should probably take profits.

An Alternative to an Alternative

Keeping with the automotive theme, however, investors can cut their risk by shifting into the companies that provide the fuel for the stodgy old gas guzzlers that still dominate the roads today. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s electric cars may be the future, but oil and gasoline are the fuels of today. Here are some discounted oil stocks to look at if sitting on cash isn’t high on your list:

The Local Boy

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) went through a period of heavy acquisition activity. Those purchases proved to be ill fated and the company was forced to shed assets. The 2012 spin off of Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX), which now owns what used to be the company downstream assets, was the last big transformative event.

Tesla Motors IncToday, ConocoPhillips is the largest independent exploration and production company in the United States. It also boasts a yield in the 4% range, well above industry leaders like Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM). What’s nice about this stock is that you can tap that yield without having to take on too much foreign political risk.

So, ConocoPhillips is a good option for investors concerned about the stock market and venturing into inhospitable locals for an energy source destined to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

Best Risk Adjusted Choice

For those willing to take on a bit more risk, Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) is probably the best choice. It is one of the largest oil and natural gas companies in the world. Unlike ConcocoPhillips, Shell’s business spans from pulling oil and gas out of the ground, to refining it, to filling automobile gas tanks. However, Shell has much more exposure to international markets.

One big knock against the company today is its investment in U.S. natural gas. New drilling methods have led to historically low domestic gas prices. That will continue to be a drag until prices recover. However, management believes that natural gas is destined to overtake coal as the number two energy source in the world.

So, natural gas could be a valuable asset in the not to distant future. Moreover, Shell has notable experience with liquified natural gas in Europe. Although low gas prices and a weak Europe have been a weight on the shares, income investors looking to shift to an out of favor name would do well to take a look at this 5% yielding stock.

An Eiffel Good Option

Bad puns aside, TOTAL S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:TOT) is another giant oil and natural gas company worth looking at. The company hails from France, but its operations span the globe. Not as well known as Shell in the States, its about 5.5% yield is around twice that of Exxon Mobil and over two percentage points above Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)‘s.

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