Tesla Inc. shares dropped as much as 10 percent Wednesday after the company reported fourth-quarter Model 3 deliveries just below estimates and said it would lower the price of its cars.
The electric-vehicle maker said it would cut the price on its cars by $2,000 to help make up for U.S. buyers as of Tuesday being eligible for only a $3,750 federal tax credit for the next six months, half of what they previously received. The unexpected move triggered concerns about demand for Tesla’s cars, as well as the profit margin — two closely watched metrics for the company.
The company said in a statement before the markets opened that it delivered more than 245,000 electric cars and SUVs last year.
“The optics of this decision are weighing on shares, which is not surprising,” Consumer Edge research firm analyst James Albertine wrote in a note to clients, but “in the broader context of the staggering growth Tesla has executed in the past year,” they are over-correcting on the news. The analyst said demand for Tesla vehicles, most notably the Model 3, remained strong leaving 2018 and entering 2019. “To us, demand is not an issue, nor is EV competition to this point,” Albertine added.
Tesla shares closed down 6.8 percent at $310.12 in New York.
The company’s deliveries for the full year matched Wall Street estimates, but its figures for the fourth quarter didn’t reach expectations. Tesla said it delivered 90,700 vehicles from October through December. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet expected 92,000. Tesla said fourth-quarter deliveries were 8 percent higher than its previous quarterly peak in the third quarter of 2018.
The company now is moving into an important phase of its business and will have to decide whether to cut production to match what appears to be waning demand or discount its vehicles to stimulate sales like other automakers do, Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey said.
“They have for a long time had more demand than supply,” Ramsey said. “It’s becoming apparent that that dynamic is changing.”
Tesla will try to disguise the price cuts with the disappearing tax credit or discounts for buyers who refer other customers to Tesla, Ramsey said. “The cars are quite expensive, and they’re still electric vehicles. They don’t appeal to everybody,” he said, adding that not everyone is interested in the limited range or having to pay extra for a home charging unit.
For the full year, Tesla said it produced 254,530 vehicles, which is 9,290 more than it delivered. The company wouldn’t say how many vehicles it had in inventory at the end of the year, but it reported enough to supply 20 days of sales at the end of September.
“Our inventory levels remain the smallest in the automotive industry,” the company said Wednesday.
Tesla said it sometimes stores vehicles on lots as they’re being shipped to company dealerships across the nation.
Tesla’s 2018 production fell far short of a goal set nearly three years ago of manufacturing 500,000 vehicles for the year. That goal was announced in May of 2016 based on advance orders for the Model 3.
It’s not clear how the delivery figures will affect Tesla’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings, which likely will be announced in February. Ramsey said the company’s stock price rose despite past losses because investors always thought Tesla had to spend money to increase production to meet high demand. If demand fades, then well-documented financial problems such as high debt “start to become very, very serious,” Ramsey said.
Tesla’s 2018 deliveries included almost 146,000 Model 3 lower-priced cars and another 99,000 of the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, both of which can easily top $100,000. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 but still can’t be purchased for under $45,000.
In the third quarter of 2018, Tesla delivered on CEO Elon Musk’s promise to make a net profit after years of losses. The company earned $311.5 million during the three months ending in September, swinging from a loss of $619 million at the same time last year.
It was only the third time that Tesla has posted a quarterly profit in its eight-year history as a public company and the first time in two years. Musk has promised to post sustained quarterly profits.
As of the end of September, the company reported $9.7 billion in long-term debt and another $3.6 billion in accounts payable owed to parts suppliers and other companies. Tesla ended September with $2.9 billion in cash.
Moody’s Investor Service downgraded the company’s debt into junk territory last March, warning that Tesla won’t have cash to cover $3.7 billion for normal operations, capital expenses and debt that comes due early this year. Moody’s predicted that the company would have to raise more capital.
Information for this article was contributed by Esha Dey of Bloomberg News and by Tom Krisher of The Associated Press.
Business on 01/03/2019
Print Headline: Tesla stock falls on price-cut news
- Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 2.2 get a price cut in India
- Asus 6Z, Asus 5Z get price cut up to Rs 7,000: New price, specifications, features
- Oppo F11 and F11 Pro get price cuts
- Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 3.2 get a price cut in India
- HTC U11 gets a price cut in India
- Oil gains on U.S. crude stocks fall, OPEC comments on slower U.S. shale growth
- Oil rises on U.S. crude stocks fall, OPEC comments on U.S. shale growth
- Actual Black Friday deals are here! AO.com has started its round of tech price cuts early
- Oil gains on US crude stocks fall, OPEC comments on slower US shale growth
- Gold settles higher as US dollar, stocks fall