Tesla moved closer to the S&P Global’s “Investment Grade” rating after reporting a strong first quarter with a solid financial balance sheet, especially in terms of free cash flow, while navigating tough macro conditions in the sector.
“S&P Global Ratings today said that Tesla Inc.’s first-quarter results (ended March 31, 2022) indicate solid execution and prospects for robust free cash flow in 2022 amid supply disruptions,” the organization wrote in a bulletin.
Tesla’s Q1 2022 Earnings Call took place on Wednesday, where CEO Elon Musk and other executives outlined the automaker’s strongest performance in its short-but-storied history. Tesla posted over $18.7 billion in revenue, beating consensus estimates of $17.8 billion. It also beat EPS estimates of $2.27 by posting a nearly $1 beat at $3.22 per share.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic of Tesla’s quarterly breakdown on its Shareholder Deck was its ability to navigate through global supply chain issues and chip shortages, two issues that have plagued many industries with automotive being amongst the hardest hit. Tesla said:
“Challenges around supply chain have remained persistent, and our team has been navigating through them for over a year. In addition to chip shortages, recent COVID-19 outbreaks have been weighing on our supply chain and factory operations. Furthermore, prices of some raw materials have increased multiple-fold in recent months. The inflationary impact on our cost structure has contributed to adjustments in our product pricing, despite a continued focus on reducing our manufacturing costs where possible.”
Despite the challenges, Tesla’s automotive division performed well above expectations by delivering 310,048 vehicles in Q1, a new company record. Its largest contributors to revenue generation were growth in vehicle deliveries, increased average selling price, and growth in other parts of Tesla’s business.
Its performance in Q1 has the S&P nearly ready to promote the company’s stock to an “Investment Grade” rating. In October, the organization upgraded Tesla to a BB+ rating, but as the industry continues to expand, the company holds a competitive advantage. Tesla will have to improve one level, from BB+ to BBB, to be considered “Investment Grade,” by the S&P Global’s standards.
“At this stage, Tesla appears to be in a very strong position relative to its competitors to raise its cell capacity and complete the ramp up of its production to meet demand,” the S&P Global Ratings wrote. “Specifically, we believe the electric vehicle (EV) maker is on track to increase its annual vehicle deliveries toward our forecast of roughly 1.5 million over the next 12 months, which follows its delivery of 936,000 vehicles in 2021 and over 310,000 in the first quarter of 2022. While competition is increasing with numerous launches of new EV models, we recently increased our EV penetration to reach 15%-25% of the global fleet by 2025, which should support Tesla’s ability to increase sales of its vehicles.”
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