Tesla’s latest earnings report delivered no unpleasant surprises, and that was enough to bring TSLA stock back to rude health, up almost 10% in Wednesday’s trading.
The company reported a net loss of $230 million, or $1.78 per share, on revenues of $937 million in GAAP terms: $75 million, or $0.58 per share, on revenues of $1.24 billion in the more lenient non-GAAP figures that the company believes paint a more realistic picture of its prospects. This was pretty close to most analysts’ predictions.
Tesla delivered 11,603 vehicles in the third quarter of 2015, and expects to deliver between 17,000 and 19,000 in the fourth, putting it on track to meet a slightly-lowered target of 50,000 to 52,000 for the full year. Massive capital investments will continue – an expected $1.7 billion for the full year, much of it for the Gigafactory.
In a conference call, Elon Musk said Tesla expects to meet delivery targets for the Model X. Production was stalled for a week as the company retooled its assembly line, but the improvements are expected to increase throughput by 35 percent. Tesla has dealt with at least one of its supplier issues by bringing production of the X’s second-row monopost seat in-house.
“Every day I get an update on manufacturing progress, and we see no fundamental issues on the production ramp,” said Musk. “It’s just a question of how quickly we can solve each issue. And they are really down to the little things, like the placement of the seal on the door, and whether that results in the bright trim alignment being correct – this is quite nuanced. So we feel very confident of being able get to [several hundred] vehicles per week by the end of the year.”
The vaunted Model 3 is still on track for a March 2016 unveiling, and will be on the market “as soon as humanly possible.”
In the few weeks since the Autopilot feature was enabled, some Model S owners seem to be on a mission to make the company look bad, posting videos of near-accidents and irresponsible no-hands stunts such as shaving while driving. “This is not good,” said Musk. “And we will be putting some additional constraints on when Autopilot can be activated, to minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things with it.”
Overall, the early data has been “very positive,” added CTO JB Straubel. “We are aware of many accidents that were prevented from Autopilot, and we are not aware of any that were caused by Autopilot. So it appears to be quite beneficial from a safety standpoint.”
Tesla has opened its first production line at the Gigafactory, cranking out components for the Powerwall and Powercell battery systems. The company has accelerated plans to begin battery cell production at the Gig by the end of 2016.
Musk said the Gigafactory’s entire projected production for 2016 is already sold out, and boasted that Tesla’s battery price per kilowatt-hour will smoke the competition. “We don’t think anyone is on a path to be even close to us,” he said. “If they are, I will be the first to congratulate them.”
Tesla also announced that Jason Wheeler, formerly the number-two finance officer at Google, will take over the post of CFO from Deepak Ahuja.