Investor's Corner

Tesla capital spend to soar 340% in second half ahead of Model 3

It’s no secret that Tesla chief Elon Musk has awe-inspiring plans to reshape the transportation and energy sector as we know it. Since the reveal of the company’s second master plan, the billionaire entrepreneur CEO has announced Tesla’s goals to acquire SolarCity, unveil a Tesla Semi that will tackle the heavy-duty trucking segment, develop a ride-sharing program, and, of course, build out the remaining 86% of the company’s already enormous battery facility – the Gigafactory.

Execution on Tesla’s grand ambitions will require billions of dollars. Having built a $3.25 billion cash position helped by the company’s raise of $1.7 billion earlier in the year, Tesla will need to expertly balance its capital expenditure, as it continues to build vehicles and sustain its auto business, with capital allocation towards new development and growth.

Tesla management had originally projected capital expenditures of $1.5 billion in 2016, but given the stellar early success of the company’s mass market Model 3: the company would see huge demand in the first month of the vehicle’s unveiling and take in close to 400k reservation deposits, Musk took to Twitter to announce, “Definitely going to need to rethink production planning…” And that, they will.

Huge demand for the Model 3 has prompted the company to accelerate its original target of producing 500k vehicles per year from 2020 to 2018. Tesla explains this in the company’s Q1 shareholder letter as follows:

“Given our plans to advance our 500,000 total unit build plan, essentially doubling the prior growth plan, we are reevaluating our level of capital expenditures, but expect it will be about 50% higher than our previous guidance of $1.5 billion for 2016. Naturally, this will impact our ability to be net cash flow positive for the year, but given the demand for Model 3, investing to meet that demand is the best long-term decision for Tesla.

Financial Analyst Daniel Sparks notes via The Motley Fool, Tesla management expects to invest $2.25 billion in capital expenditures during the second half of this year on production planning for the Model 3. This amounts to an over three-fold or 340% increase in spending when compared to the first half of the year. Tesla made mention of this during the company’s second-quarter shareholder letter, as noted by Sparks. “Despite the disciplined pace of capital spending in the first half of this year, we still expect to invest about $2.25 billion in capital expenditures in 2016, in support of our accelerated production plan for Model 3.”, Tesla explained.

Investors are keeping a watchful eye on the Silicon Valley electric-car maker while it continues to make headway on its ambitious growth plans. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Tesla will need to raise more capital (or sell an unprecedented amount of P100Ds) before being able to put a bow on its second master plan.

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