Tesla Q2 earnings: Continued losses, but steady progress

Tesla Batteries

As expected, Tesla posted a larger-than-expected loss for the second quarter of 2016. The company’s plans to revolutionize several more industries are proceeding nicely, even as it stays resolutely focused on achieving the fastest production ramp-up in the history of the auto industry.

If that sounds a little crazy, well, these are crazy times. Stock market analysts and investors aren’t sure how to evaluate the Tesla-related news items that hit the headlines on a daily basis, but they know they don’t want to bet against Elon Musk.

Tesla reported a GAAP net loss of $293 million for the quarter, or $2.09 per share. On the more forgiving non-GAAP basis, the loss was $150 million, or $1.06 loss per basic share. Analysts had expected around $0.53 per share.

GAAP revenue was $1.3 billion, while non-GAAP revenue was $1.6 billion for the quarter, up 31% from a year ago, and a little better than Wall Street’s expected $1.53 billion.

Q2 automotive gross margin was 23.1% on a GAAP basis. This is a healthy figure, and it’s an important number, because it represents how much Tesla earns on each car it sells (no, the company is not losing money on each car sold, as anti-Tesla ranters insist). So in theory, as long as orders keep coming in, the company will eventually become profitable (in practice, it probably won’t any time soon, because it will continue to plow earnings back into new projects).

Another important point: “We recognized an insignificant amount of ZEV credit revenue in Q2.” Tesla is making money selling cars, and is not vulnerable to the fickle fancies of government regulators (again, despite the misleading musings of the chattering class).

The earnings letter contained various tidbits about autonomy, trucks, buses and solar panels, but here’s the big question: How is the vehicle production ramp-up going?

In a conference call, Musk admitted that “we were in production hell for the first six months of this year,” and added that he was personally going to meet with a problematic supplier.

However, Tesla says, “Vehicle production efficiency is improving rapidly and we are now increasing our weekly production rate even further. Barring any further supply constraints, we plan to exit Q3 with a steady production rate of 2,200 vehicles per week, and plan to increase production to 2,400 vehicles per week in Q4.”

Demand is not a problem: “Q2 net new vehicle orders rose 67% from a year ago.”

Tesla is standing by its prediction of approximately 50,000 Model S and Model X deliveries in the second half of 2016.

Meanwhile, the new baby is on the way: “We have completed the design phase of Model 3 and released Model 3 for tooling, production planning and validation. The Model 3 capacity expansion will reflect our initial efforts to apply our ‘machine that makes the machine’ philosophy to vehicle manufacturing, and demonstrates our intense focus on volumetric and capital efficiency. Some Model 3 production equipment is already on line, including initial capacity in our stamping and paint centers. Later this year, we plan to begin construction of new Model 3 body and general assembly centers.”

“Gigafactory construction remains on target to support volume production of Model 3 in late 2017, and we recently accelerated construction to reach a rate of 35 GWh/year of cell production in 2018. This will allow us to meet the needs of our accelerated Model 3 production plan.”

 

Source: Tesla, Wall Street Journal, InsideEVs