Tesla Motors, Inc. third-quarter earnings call next week will celebrate what has been the company’s fastest vehicle sales growth since 2013. Will that be enough for shareholders?
A positive third quarter can set the financial foundation for Tesla’s future, as the company is trying to acquire SolarCity and is preparing to roll out its mass market Model 3 in late 2017. As Daniel Sparks of The Motley Fool points out, investors will examine Tesla’s third-quarter operating cash flow as a signal of the company’s likelihood for profitability. Tesla has consistently reported negative operating cash flow.
In late August, 2016, Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk sent an e-mail to employees at Tesla Motors, Inc., expressing “how critical this quarter is” and urging them to do their part to help show positive cash flow in the third quarter. The e-mail was obtained by Bloomberg.
Tesla is “on the razor’s edge of achieving a good Q3, but it requires building and delivering every car we possibly can, while simultaneously trimming any cost that isn’t critical, at least for the next 4-5 weeks…. The simple reality of it is that we will be in a far better position to convince potential investors to bet on us if the headline is not ‘Tesla Loses Money Again,’ but rather ‘Tesla Defies All Expectations and Achieves Profitability.’ That would be amazing!”
All indications are that the email’s intent paid off. During its third quarter, Tesla delivered approximately 24,500 vehicles, which exceeds its previous year’s data by 111%. Moreover, these deliveries were up 40% from Tesla’s record fourth quarter last year, when the automaker delivered about 17,500 vehicles. Traditional car manufacturers have reported falling sales during the same period. Tesla Motors has forecast it will deliver about 80,000 vehicles in sum this year.
The question is, How will these record deliveries impact the company’s overall financial health?
If Q3 operating profit and non-GAAP earnings per share are coming close to a breakeven point, shareholders will be placated. This is because those numbers will indicate that Tesla’s business can benefit from economies of scale, or the cost advantage that arises with increased output of a product.
Of course, a report that offers higher-than-expected cash flow and profits will make shareholders smile.
Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) will post its financial results for the third quarter that ended September 30, 2016 after market close on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. Tesla management will hold a live question and answer webcast that day at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time (5:30 p.m. Eastern Time) to discuss the company’s financial and business results and outlook. Tesla Motors, Inc. anticipates its Q4 deliveries and production to be at or slightly above Q3, despite Q4 ‘s shorter total calendar duration and the challenge of delivering vehicles in early winter, with the residual effects of weather and holidays.