Tesla’s stock plunged by $1.5 billion in after-hours trading on Tuesday following the company’s announcement that it missed Wall Street’s vehicle delivery estimates for the fourth quarter of 2016 by 12 percent.
Tesla Motors, Inc. announced fourth quarter deliveries of 22,200 units and 76,230 units for the year. The report was below Tesla’s guidance to analysts of 25,000 deliveries for the quarter and 80,000 for the year. It also trailed Tesla’s third quarter deliveries of 24,500 in the third quarter.
Although the company produced 24,882 vehicles in the fourth quarter and 83,922 for the year, customers took title to only 12,700 Model S sedans and 9,500 Model X SUVs in the last 90 days.
In what has become a typical excuse, Tesla blamed its customers: “In total, about 2,750 vehicles missed being counted as deliveries in Q4 either due to last-minute delays in transport or because the customer was unable to physically take delivery.”
Tesla’s stated business model is supposedly “bespoke” sales, which means each car is only built after there is a customer deposit. But from Breitbart News’ calculations, it would appear that Tesla now has an inventory of about 7,000 unsold cars.
Musk said in a September 29 companywide memo: “Customers need to know with absolute certainty that they can always trust Tesla to do the right thing.” But when he was challenged on Twitter about rumors of sales discounting, he acknowledged that it was true. But he then emphasized that it should “be limited to a small number of cases worldwide, it needs to be zero.”
Anton Wahlman, writing for the Seeking Alpha blog, was the first analyst to warn about more trouble coming at Tesla. He reported in mid-December that with the European electric plug-in car market growing at 23 percent for the first 10 months of 2016, Tesla’s market share had fallen from 9 percent to 7 percent. The big gainers in Europe were in the luxury category that Tesla had dominated. Sales were up by 166 percent at Mercedes, 156 percent at BMW, and 140 percent at Volvo.
Tesla’s 8K, filed on January 8 with the SEC, stated: “Tesla vehicle deliveries represent only one measure of the company’s financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results, which depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements and mix of directly leased vehicles.”
But for a company that has negative cash flow, and which is committed to delivering 1,000,000 cars a year by 2020, it should not be surprising that failing to meet delivery commitments caused Tesla’s stock valuation to plunge immediately.