Overnight, Goldman analyst David Tamberrino – who has a Sell rating on Tesla and a $195 price target – published a note that will guarantee he won’t be invited to the Tesla holiday tent party, in which he wrote that he believes “the company is tracking below its 2018 Model S/X guidance of approx. 100k units” and that “Model 3 deliveries are tracking below consensus” adding that consensus expectations for the 2Q18 production rate appear elevated.
On the sensitive issue of Model 3 deliveries, the Goldman analyst said that he expects 22,000 deliveries, “below the consensus expectations of 28,000.”
We believe that investors are continuing to track Model 3 VIN registrations (i.e., sequential vehicle identification numbers) as a proxy for the company’s production rate. Based on the ratio of registered VINs to the company’s 3Q17, 4Q17, and 1Q18 Model 3 production cadence, we believe that Model 3 VINs (highest VIN was 54,003 as of June 21) imply QTD 2Q18 production was at approx. 22,000 at the end of last week. Further, this is in-line with Business Insider which reported that YTD 2018 Model 3 production only totaled 30,000 vehicles (as of 6/19), implying 2Q18 production of approx. 20,000. Assuming the last few weeks in June ramp somewhat from the over 3,000/week production rate, we see total 2Q18 Model 3 production of approx. 28,000 vehicles.
As for deliveries, current data points suggest approx. 10,425 Model 3 vehicles were delivered in April and May (to US and Canada customers). As such, we increase our Model 3 delivery estimate to 22,000 (from 19,000 previously), although we remain below the consensus expectations of 28,000.
He also had some harsh words about Musk’s strategy to extrapolate the quarter-end production burst (inside a tent) into the future:
Lastly, investor conversations on the stock have moved past the 5,000/week run-rate production target (as we believe most investors are giving the company credit for achieving this level entering 3Q18) toward vehicle profit margins and conversion of Model 3 reservations to higher priced vehicles.
And while most normal CEOs would skim the sellside research note and then promptly forget about it, instead focusing on proving the author wrong (by “sleeping on the factory floor” as the case may be), Elon Musk is no normal CEO and as Bloomberg reports, on Wednesday Elon Musk sent a companywide email to Tesla employees responding to the Goldman report.
“They are in for a rude awakening :)” Musk wrote in the email in which he linked to a CNBC story that discussed on the Goldman report.
As is widely known, Tesla is in a race against time with just days left in the quarter, and is under enormous pressure to prove to investors that it can achieve and sustain higher levels of production. To hit his target, several weeks ago Musk erected a massive tent the size of two football fields which houses another Model 3 assembly line in hopes of topping off the missing units. Musk told investors during Tesla’s June 5 annual shareholder meeting that the company was “quite likely” to achieve its target to build 5,000 of the sedans a week by the end of this month.
The company will release second quarter production and delivery figures in early July, with an earnings call to follow not long after: while it remains to be seen what kind of awakening Goldman is in for, we can be certain that the Goldman analyst will not be allowed to ask any questions on the call.
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