Tesla is set to report second-quarter earnings Monday. Get ready for a very complicated report.
The EV pioneer will report after the close of trading on Monday, July 26. Wall Street is looking for Tesla (ticker: TSLA) to report about 94 cents in per-share earnings from $11.5 billion in sales, according to FactSet. Beating analyst estimates is important, almost required, for any stock to remain stable in post-earnings trading. That’s true for Tesla as well.
Factors that will contribute to bottom-line earnings include the global semiconductor shortage, vehicle pricing, vehicle gross profit margins, and the level of profitability in Tesla’s battery storage business. In the end, however, investors will want to see a record in operating profits—no matter how it happens. That’s what could break shares out of their recent range.
Tesla reported more than $800 million in operating profits in the 2020 third quarter, and the stock more than doubled to around $860 in the three-month span that followed. But since operating profit growth largely paused in the subsequent quarters, shares have traded down from roughly $860 to around $640 recently. Profit stagnation has meant stock stagnation, too.
The good news for Tesla bulls is Wall Street is projecting a fresh record: Operating profit is expected to be $835 million for the second quarter, driven by strong deliveries. The 2021 second quarter marked the first time Tesla delivered more than 200,000 vehicles in a single quarter.
After earnings are digested, there should be endless arguments among bulls and bears about the quality of earnings. For instance, one way Tesla generates sales is by selling regulatory credits—which it earns by producing more than its fair share of electric vehicles. The company generated $518 million in first-quarter credit sales, which helped Tesla beat earnings estimates. There is always debate about what is the “normal” amount of credit sales and when will those sales dry up. Eventually, both the bulls and bears expect other auto makers to sell their own EVs, cutting off that source of revenue for Tesla.
There is also the issue of Bitcoin. Tesla recognized a small gain on its Bitcoin holdings in the first quarter, but the cryptocurrency’s prices have fallen by roughly half since their April peak. That means there is a chance of a small loss. How investors react is anyone’s guess, but don’t expect Tesla to sell out of its Bitcoin position. Musk continues to indicate his company will transact in the cryptocurrency when Bitcoin mining uses more sustainable power.
Investors will also want to know when Tesla’s new Germany plant and Austin, Texas facility will start delivering cars. The Austin plant will build Tesla’s Cybertruck. There will also likely be questions about advances in Tesla’s driver-assistance functions—the company recently started selling its driver-assistance software as a subscription—and how much money the company could make from its charging network. Musk tweeted this week Tesla would open its charging network to other EVs down the road.
Those topics and more should be discussed on the earnings conference call scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday. Year to date, Tesla stock is down roughly 9%, trailing behind comparable 17% and 15% respective gains of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average. Still, Tesla shares have had a strong run, up about 112% over the past 12 months.
Write to Al Root at firstname.lastname@example.org