Tesla Charger
A Tesla Model S is charged at a Tesla dealership in Corte Madera, California, May 8, 2014. Tesla's stock hit an all-time high on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Reuters/Robert Galbraith

After hitting a 52-week high Friday in the wake of news that China may be considering an extra gas tax to help promote electric vehicle use in its smog-choked cities, shares in Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) hit an all-time high following the latest bullish assessment of the Palo Alto, California, company’s future.

A share of TSLA gained 2.2 percent or nearly $6 by Tuesday afternoon after New York-based financial adviser Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. said it was upgrading its recommendation to buy from hold and predicted the company will see earnings per share of $8.28 in 2017 on demand for its Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X crossover due out next spring. The sub-$40,000 Model 3 is due out by the end of 2017.

“Given the pace at which production is ramping and the fact TSLA has only recently entered the EU and Asian markets, we are incrementally confident in management's ability to leverage its brand advantage globally over the next 2-3 years,” Stifel Nicolaus said in its note released before markets opened in New York on Tuesday morning.

Tesla’s stock is up more than 87 percent since the start of the year. Over the past 12 months TSLA has gained $112, or about 66 percent. The company’s stock has gained more than 400 percent or nearly $227 since it began its meteoric rise in the second quarter of 2013.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company’s unadjusted EPS (before one-time charges) to rise from 78 cents per share this year to $4.77 by 2017. Tesla’s third-quarter earnings report is due out in early November. The date has not been set yet, but last year the company reported its third quarter earnings on Nov. 8.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Tesla stock was trading at $283.70, up 14 percent.