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Tesla earnings: Oof

Tesla earnings: Oof
[Photo: Alex Iby/Unsplash]

Tesla just got hit with a big loss for its most recent quarter: $2.90 per share on revenue of $4.54 billion. Analysts estimated a loss of $0.69 per share on revenue of $5.33 billion. The company ended its first quarter with $2.2 billion of cash and cash equivalents.

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Tesla paid off a $920 million convertible bond in March, which was largely responsible for the reduction. Another $180 million related to Solar City is due in April.

The company still expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles in 2019. “If our Gigafactory Shanghai is able to reach volume production early in Q4 this year, we may be able to produce as many as 500,000 vehicles globally in 2019,” Tesla noted in its earnings letter, adding that it should be able to produce 500,000 vehicles globally between July 2019 and July 2020. Tesla plans to deliver between 90,000 and 100,000 vehicles next quarter.

The company is behind on production goals. It produced 77,100 total vehicles, of which 62,975 were Model 3 and 14,163 were Model S and X. Both production and delivery of Model S and X vehicles were down over 43% from the same time last year. Meanwhile, the Model 3 is up significantly on all fronts.

On its earnings call, the company said the production problems were an organizational issue. “Half of all deliveries occurred in the final 10 days of Q1,” CEO Elon Musk said. Part of this was related to making upgrades to Model S and X vehicles. There was also a logistical snafu with Tesla’s production process. Musk explained the company was building cars in batches—for example, making all of the orders out of China in the first half of the quarter and all of the orders out of North America in the second quarter. He said the company will be “rebalancing vehicle build” across its global factories to produce in a way that’s more tethered to regional demand.

Earlier this quarter, Tesla said it would be closing some stores, laying off corresponding employees, and moving all of its sales online in an effort to make room in the budget for the $35,000 Model 3. Though Tesla said it would begin selling the $35,000 version of the Model 3 in February, the vehicle has yet to materialize.

Despite looming concerns from investors, Musk has been pushing for a focus on the future. During the call, he announced it would launch its own car insurance product next month. On Monday, he hosted an event to announce a coming autonomous robotaxi fleet, slated for 2020. He promised to have a million self-driving vehicles on roads next year, but many weren’t convinced: Between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, Tesla’s stock dropped. No company has been able to debut a self-driving car that is past the pilot stage, and autonomous technology is a costly investment.

Tesla’s technological infrastructure for self-driving relies on computer vision and does not use lidar, which uses laser light pulses to detect objects and their distance. Though a truer version of artificial intelligence in the sense that the car will have to process images in real time to make decisions, it may prove a more difficult path to chart.

On that note, Musk has changed his perspective on raising capital: “I think there is some merit to raising capital,” he told an investor on the call. “This is probably the right timing.” Last year, he said he did not want to do an equity raise.

Tesla also has yet to close a deal to buy Maxwell Technologies, which makes ultra capacitors and battery parts, for $218 million. On the call, general counsel Jonathan Chang said that the deal would come through in mid-May.

In after-hours trading, Tesla’s stock is ever so slightly up.

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