Tesla is due to pay nearly $1 billion in debt on Friday, a sum which could wipe out at least a quarter of the company’s cash.
CNBC reports that Elon Musk’s Tesla faces a debt repayment of $920 million due on Friday which could spell huge problems for the company. Regulatory filings show that the company has $920 million in convertible senior notes due on March 1 at a conversion price of $359.87 per share; Tesla’s shares haven’t traded above $359 for quite some time and closed at $297.86 on Tuesday making repayment through shares impossible.
If Tesla’s stock price was at $359.87 or higher, the debt repayment would be converted into Tesla stock and the company would not have to come up with $920 million in cash. In 2018, the company reported $3.69 billion in unrestricted cash and equivalents, if the company’s cash level is at a similar level, a $920 million hit will take up a significant amount of Tesla’s resources.
Former hedge fund manager Darius Brawn, who worked as a portfolio manager for Citadel, SAC and Sharpe Point, commented on Tesla’s situation, stating that if the company doesn’t sell a huge number of Model 3 vehicles next month they could be facing big problems: “If March doesn’t go gangbusters for Tesla they are in real trouble, especially without raising,” Brawn stated.
In a fourth-quarter shareholder letter, Tesla stated that it had “sufficient cash on hand to comfortably settle in cash our convertible bond that will mature in March 2019.” The company added that its cash position had improved by $1.45 billion in the second half of 2018 and expects a positive net income and cash flow “in every quarter beyond Q1 2019.”
But the company’s decreased capital expenditures throughout the year, which fell by 43 percent in 2018 to $2.32 billion, combined with pressure put on the firm to produce new technology by CEO Elon Musk who has promised a “full self-driving” Tesla by next year, places the firm under significant stress. On top of that, the firm pushed a $180 million Solar City debt forward to January and then April 2019 while agreeing to pay a higher interest rate to do so. On top of that, letters of credit rose 53 percent against Tesla in the second half of 2018 which is often a sign that vendors don’t believe a client can pay their bill.
It was also in January that Tesla announced it would be cutting seven percent of its workforce; in an email to employees, CEO Elon Musk stated:
Looking ahead at our mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy, which is important for all life on Earth, we face an extremely difficult challenge: making our cars, batteries and solar products cost-competitive with fossil fuels. While we have made great progress, our products are still too expensive for most people.
The Chicago Tribune wrote that Wall Street analysts are “waking up from the dream” of Tesla. The article in the Tribune states:
Elon Musk‘s electric-auto giant Tesla said Wednesday it has curbed production for some of its most expensive vehicles after its second mass layoff in seven months, fueling concern over the company’s ability to survive without making as many of the top-dollar cars that helped it become a household name.
Overall, Tesla is facing a rough week and an even tougher year.