Investor's Corner

Tesla stock (TSLA) holding steady amid signs of Model 3 sustained ramp, vote of confidence from Detroit

Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) are holding steady following Monday’s steep dive after investors weighed in on the now-deleted wild remarks made by CEO Elon Musk over Twitter. As signs emerge that Model 3 production ramp will remain consistent, bolstered by positive sentiment from Detroit after veteran Sandy Munro concluded that Tesla could exceed a 30% profit margin on its mass-market electric car, investors see these as indicators for potentially more upbeat sentiments to come.

Tesla stock has been a battleground since the company announced that it has hit its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 per week at the end of the second quarter. Amidst reservations from a number of Wall St. analysts who believe that the Model 3’s optimal production pace is unsustainable, the company’s shares took a dive. Tesla stock briefly got a reprieve on July 10, after the company announced its plans of building its third Gigafactory in China. Since then, however, the electric car maker’s stock continued to be volatile, until its notable plunge on Monday, when shares fell over 3.5% amidst controversy resulting from Elon Musk’s controversial and now-deleted statements on Twitter during the weekend. In Monday’s after-hours trading, Tesla shares were at $307.20, a significant drop from Friday’s close of $318.87.

As markets opened on Tuesday, however, Tesla stock began holding, as the backlash from Musk’s incendiary weekend Twitter session appeared to taper off. Behind this weekend’s report of Musk’s donations to the GOP and his Twitter issues, after all, signs are emerging that Tesla’s problems with the Model 3 are ending.

This weekend alone, Tesla started shipping ~100 Model 3 Performance to its showrooms to be utilized as test drive units. This follows the electric car’s successful appearance at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, where it attracted a significant amount of interest from the event’s attendees. Tesla’s VIN registrations have also seen a notable spike since the end of the second quarter, with the company registering more than 19,000 new Model 3 VINs since the beginning of the month. It should be noted that Tesla started manufacturing the Model 3 in mid-2017, and it was only able to hit the 19,000 mark this March.

Apart from signs that the Model 3’s 5,000/week production could actually be sustained, more encouraging news for Tesla came in the form of a new Autoline Network segment featuring Detroit veteran Sandy Munro. Munro, a teardown expert and CEO of Munro & Associates, has been studying the Model 3 for months, and while his initial impressions on the vehicle were predominantly negative, he was eventually won over by Tesla’s battery technology and electronics. According to Munro, Tesla could see more than 30% profit on the Model 3, thanks to the California-based electric car company’s in-house development and optimal utilization of the vehicle’s components.

Munro noted that the Tesla Model 3’s electronics, which he previously compared to a military-grade flight controller, is a “symphony of engineering.” The Detroit veteran also praised Tesla’s 2170 cells for the Model 3, which are 20% larger than the Model S and X’s 18650 cells but carry 50% more power. Perhaps the most notable among Munro’s conclusion, however, was mentioned by Autoline Network in its video’s comments section. According to the network, Munro stated that he expects even the $35,000 Standard Range RWD Model 3 to still make a “double-digit gross profit.”

Munro’s findings are in line with the results outlined by a German teardown company earlier this year, which estimated that the materials used for the Model 3 cost around $18,000 per vehicle. Coupled with Tesla’s pledge to reduce its cobalt use (cobalt is among the most expensive components of its batteries) over the next few years, Tesla’s profit margins for the Model 3 appear to have a lot of potential.  

As the dust clears, it seems like Elon Musk’s recent statement in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek will come to pass — Tesla’s production hell with the Model 3 is ending, and the coming year would be very, very encouraging.

As of writing, Tesla shares are trading up 1.34% at $314.12 per share.

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.

Tesla stock (TSLA) holding steady amid signs of Model 3 sustained ramp, vote of confidence from Detroit
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