The first quarter is typically soft for most automakers. Not Tesla. This year, the Silicon Valley automaker displayed its production prowess against all odds. The performance of Elon Musk and the Tesla team was on full display yesterday when the company released its first-quarter earnings report and the company’s top execs answered questions on an impassioned earnings call.
Al Root from Barron pointed out five key takeaways that explained the drama and excitement that transpired at the beginning of 2021 for Tesla. Here’s what he found to be the top highlights.
Even though Tesla posted impressive numbers, Q1 had some significant headwinds. “There is a shortage of semiconductors for automobiles and Covid-19 is still making life difficult for the entire global auto business. Tesla’s problems manifested themselves in higher costs. The EV maker was forced to produce and ship parts in locales that were less than ideal. [CFO] Kirkhorn, however, expressed optimism that profits and margins would improve throughout the year,” notes Root.
A Confident Forecast
Even with these headwinds, Tesla went on record that growth will continue at an impressive clip. “Tesla management expects to grow volumes at 50% a year on average for the foreseeable future. They also believe they will do better than 50% in 2021. That puts deliveries somewhere above 750,000 units,” reports Root. Regardless of the pandemic and supply chain challenges, Tesla looks optimistic as it moves into Q2 and beyond.
While other automakers and startups begin to dabble in the EV space, Tesla is not standing still. Already, “Tesla is shipping cars from two plants, one in California and the other in Shanghai. Tesla expects both the new Berlin plant and Texas plant to begin producing vehicles in late 2021, with ‘volume production’ in 2022,” according to Musk.
Most media outlets continue to serve up a diabolical dose of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about Tesla. Journalists jumped to incorrect conclusions in a recent accident assuming Autopilot was engaged. It wasn’t. Musk said these journalists who spewed FUD while looking for clickbait (instead of facts) should be “ashamed of themselves.”
A bold move, Tesla bet on Bitcoin in Q1. “[CFO] Kirkhorn added he was encouraged by the liquidity offered in the Bitcoin market. Tesla, it appears, had no trouble building a $1.5 billion position in the cryptocurrency. Tesla sold roughly 10% of its position for a ‘small gain in our Q1 financials’,” reports Root.