Investor's Corner

Did an Elon Musk email cause Wall Street to come up short on Tesla deliveries?

(Credit: elon.ai)

Did an email to employees from CEO Elon Musk convince Wall Street analysts that Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) would have a slow Q4 and underwhelming 2021? It appears that, after the electric automaker announced its largest quarter as a company and delivered its largest full-year delivery and production numbers on Sunday, the question remains: Where did analysts get it wrong?

“Street is slow and has a cautious bias, nobody wants to look like a fool, bullish on deliveries,” Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research said. “Street did react to Elon’s email about not rushing end of Q deliveries, remained cautious and missed monster deliveries in China that went public only last week,” the analyst said, according to a report from Barron’s.

Ferragu is referring to an email that Musk sent to Tesla employees in late November, which hinted toward ending the automaker’s notorious Q4 delivery blitzes.

“Per my email several weeks ago, our focus this quarter should be on minimizing *cost* of deliveries, rather than spending heavily on expedite fees, overtime, and temporary contractors just so that cars arrive in Q4,” Musk said. “What has happened historically is that we sprint like crazy at end of quarter to maximize deliveries, but then deliveries drop massively in the first few weeks of the quarter. In effect, looked at over a six month period, we won’t have delivered any extra cars, but we would have spent a lot of extra money and burned ourselves out to accelerate deliveries in the last two weeks of each quarter…The right principle is: take the most efficient action, as though we were not publicly traded and the notion of “end of quarter” didn’t exist.”

Traditionally, Tesla has called on anyone who would help the company increase its Q4 and full-year delivery figures to come to delivery centers or showrooms to expedite the entire process of a customer accepting a vehicle. In the past, it has resulted in some incredibly strong quarters, finishing a year off in a decisive manner and pushing momentum to the following year. However, Musk took a different approach this year, and Wall Street may have underestimated the capability of Tesla’s team, even with a more relaxed and cost-efficient delivery process for this year.

Analysts came up incredibly short predicting Tesla’s Q4 figures, predicting only 266,000 deliveries. Tesla delivered 308,600 cars, according to its most recent press release, and analyst predictions were off by about 16%. In past quarters, analysts were off by half that number when releasing Q3 2021 consensus estimates. Analysts were off by only 3% during Q4 2020 estimates.

Tesla shares spiked after beating consensus estimates by so much. At the time of writing, Tesla stock was up $108.61, or 10.28%, trading around $1,165.

Disclosure: Joey Klender is a TSLA Shareholder.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at [email protected]. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at [email protected].

Did an Elon Musk email cause Wall Street to come up short on Tesla deliveries?
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