If you listened to CEO Elon Musk on the Tesla Q4 post-investor letter conference call, you might think that Tesla’s dreams are all coming true. He started out by calling 2017 “obviously a big year for Tesla.” He described a very sophisticated automated parts conveyance system at the Fremont vehicle plant. Excitement about how the company is designing the Model Y. The competitive strength of Tesla long-term when centered on the factory. 100,000 units a year as a reasonable expectation for the company’s production in the next four years. It was an all-smiles, let’s-get-happy afternoon of sharing good news for investors and for the media frenzy who love to love All Things Tesla.
But should we examine only Tesla’s dreams as we anticipate the 2018 full Tesla financial picture?
Let’s take a look in this edition of the “Gas2 Week in Review” at Tesla’s dreams, yes, and its progress, certainly, but also its woes from the perspectives of the Tesla insiders as well as how others less embedded within the Tesla culture interpreted the company’s statements.
Tesla’s Dreams: Too Much or Just the Right Amount of Optimism?
Martin Viecha, head of investor relations at Tesla, opened up the February, 2018 conference call by pointing out the day’s objectives to outline “our business outlook and make forward-looking statements.” The intensive hour was dominated by the intellectual visionary Musk, who punctated the dialogues with light humor, a bit of sarcasm, and sharp insights.
With only a $3.04 loss per share in Q4 2017, Tesla did skate by analysts’ more dire predictions, and, with revenue for automotive sales up 36% compared to the same quarter a year ago, the 35% increase in deliveries seems pivotal to the company’s long-term success. Automotive revenue for the year was up 52% over last year. The company booked $170 million from sales of zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) credits in Q4 in contrast to the previous quarter in 2016 in which ZEV revenue was $20 million.
So far, so good.