Tesla Announces New Low-Priced Model To Distract From 55% Profit Drop, Cybertruck Recall

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) witnessed a significant surge in its shares by nearly 10% during after-hours trading on Tuesday, following the release of its first-quarter results. Despite falling short of revenue expectations and grappling with the aftermath of its Cybertruck recall, the company managed to ignite investor confidence with promising announcements.

In figures, Tesla reported revenue of $21.3 billion for the first quarter of 2024, below the consensus estimate of $22.15 billion and marking a 9% decline compared to the previous year – the steepest drop since 2012.

Tesla also faced a 55% drop in profits to $1.13 billion during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year. The company reported $0.34 earnings per share, which fell short of analyst expectations of $0.51 per share. Operating income plummeted by 56% to $1.2 billion from the previous year.

At the close of the first quarter, the total value of cash, cash equivalents, and investments stood at $26.9 billion. This represented a sequential decline of $2.2 billion, primarily attributed to a negative free cash flow of $2.5 billion. The decrease was primarily driven by a $2.7 billion increase in inventory and capital expenditures of $1.0 billion on AI infrastructure during the quarter.

The quarter also saw its operating cash flow plummet by 90% to $242 million from last year’s $2.5 billion.

It is also noteworthy that inventory jumped to $16 billion from last quarter’s $13 billion.

In its Q1 earnings report, Tesla highlighted a series of challenges that impacted its performance, including the conflict in the Red Sea, an arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin, and the gradual ramp-up of the updated Model 3 production in Fremont, California. Additionally, global electric vehicle sales faced pressure as many automakers prioritized hybrid vehicles over electric ones. However, Tesla managed to earn $442 million in zero emissions tax credits during the quarter.

This earnings report, the second since the launch of the Cybertruck, comes on the heels of the vehicle’s recent recall due to reports of accelerator pedal issues potentially causing vehicles to drive at full speed.

However, the company also boasted that it “produced over 1,000 Cybertrucks in a single week in April.” Excluding Cybertruck and unscheduled downtime, Tesla said its cost of goods per unit declined sequentially, driven primarily by lower raw material costs.

Gross profit, nevertheless, dropped 18% year-on-year, coming in at $3.7 billion from $4.5 billion last year.

The company’s struggle with declining profits can be attributed in part to repeated price cuts that began in late 2022, which temporarily boosted sales but failed to sustain long-term growth. In Q1 2024, Tesla delivered 386,810 vehicles, a 20% decrease from the previous quarter and 8.5% fewer than the same period in 2023. Automotive gross margins, excluding regulatory credits, also contracted to 16.35% from 18.96% in the same year-ago period.

But look here… robotaxi!

Despite the disappointing financial figures, Tesla’s shares surged by as much as 9% following the earnings report, as investors focused on the company’s forward-looking remarks regarding future products and advancements in autonomy. Tesla also earmarked $1.1 billion for research and development in Q1, a 49% increase from the same period last year.

In anticipation of future growth, Tesla hinted at plans to introduce new products, including a smaller electric vehicle priced around $25,000 and a “robotaxi” built on a new vehicle platform. However, CEO Elon Musk recently shifted focus towards accelerating the development of the robotaxi, with plans for a reveal in August.

Tesla has been navigating choppy waters, announcing a global staff reduction of 10%, affecting approximately 14,000 jobs, and implementing price cuts worldwide. Notably, Tesla CFO Vaibhav Taneja projected annual savings of over $1 billion resulting from the workforce reduction.

Encroaching competition from Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers and a decline in vehicle deliveries compounded the challenges for the company in recent quarters. In Tuesdays report, Tesla acknowledged the possibility of a lower vehicle volume growth rate compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, Musk faces ongoing criticism from investors who argue that his attention is stretched thin, particularly following his acquisition and subsequent tumultuous management of the social network Twitter, rebranded as X. The $56 billion pay package proposed by Musk earlier this year, which was rejected by a judge as an “unfathomable sum,” remains a point of contention amongst Tesla shareholders.

Despite facing increasing competition and challenges in key markets, Tesla maintains its position as the world’s most valuable automaker, boasting a market capitalization of approximately $468 billion. However, its dominance in the electric vehicle sector has slightly waned, with its share of the US market decreasing from 65% in 2022 to 51%, as rival automakers strengthen their EV offerings.

In China, once a stronghold for Tesla, the company now faces stiff competition from domestic manufacturers and recently resorted to aggressive price cuts in response. Furthermore, it briefly lost its global EV leadership position to BYD, whose diverse lineup includes more affordable models compared to Tesla’s offerings.

Tesla’s product lineup also poses challenges. Analysis reveals that Tesla has the oldest lineup among 26 global automakers, and its exclusive focus on battery-electric vehicles contrasts with competitors offering a mix of electric, hybrid, and gas vehicles. Hybrids, in particular, serve as a crucial transition option for consumers hesitant to fully embrace electric vehicles.

While rivals focus on innovations such as advanced batteries and sustainable practices, Tesla’s emphasis on projects like an “apocalypse-proof truck” and speculative robotics initiatives has raised eyebrows.

Even previous Tesla bulls are now waning off from the legendary automaker.

Information for this story was found via TechCrunch, The Guardian, CNN, The Verge, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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