Investors have long ignored fundamentals when placing value upon Tesla (TSLA) .
Those who believe in the name, and it's CEO, Elon Musk, have been referred to as a cult following. That much is certainly true. What is also true is that the firm, in releasing information highlights the positive, always promising a sunny day, and the sweetest music that you ever heard in the future. The firm covers it's collective ears, and hums loudly trying not to hear. Ignorance is bliss as storm clouds gather. "Beat" EPS expectations by reporting $-3.35? No problem. Never mind that this is an adjusted number. Remove one time items, and the EPS number becomes an even nastier $-4.19. Remove one time items and the reported loss of $568M becomes a loss of $709M. Ugly with a capital U. Please let these numbers sink in.
Production of the Model 3 has ramped up to more than 2K a week for a whopping three weeks in a row. Standing ovation. That is until the firm shut down production for a week in order to "enable higher levels of output" The firm had targeted 2500 Model 3's per week by the end of the first quarter...and clearly failed to deliver on that target, but now wants you to believe that they will be able to produce 5K Model 3's per week within a couple of months. Tesla, while admitting that margins for the firm's vehicles are still negative, tells you that as production continues to expand that these margins will improve to "break even" in Q2 and then turn profitable. Of course they will. Sweet music indeed. Know what? Everyone else who manufactures autos can design and deliver electric vehicles. Get over yourselves, Tesla.
Know what? I try not to judge. Honest. Take stupid pictures and post them on Twitter (TWTR) ? So what. Poor taste? Of course, but not being an investor in the name, I took a pass on being too critical. Last night, around 4 pm, I tried to do what I often try to do around Tesla earnings releases. I tried to short the stock. I was informed that my order was in limbo because the name was hard to borrow. Instead of waiting around, possibly for hours to see if indeed I had a valid order, I cancelled, and watched. My instinct however, was correct.
Cash burn? Need to tap capital markets? Reservations for future sales? Spending levels? All valid questions, extremely valid questions for a publicly traded company that continues to lose money hand over fist. Officially, Tesla's statement will tell investors that these conditions, (though still fundamentally unacceptable, IMHO) are improving. Cash is higher than thought, though still dwarfed by debt. Cap-Ex should decline, though interest expenses are obviously moving the wrong way. These questions, though important to Wall Street analysts who represent institutional investors, are "boring", or "dry" according to the clown prince. In fact, Musk rudely cut off one analyst mid-question.
Ignore the hard questions and turn instead to a retail investor who supposedly has a YouTube channel devoted to the firm? Hmm. Can you say Eccentric? Genius? Childish? Yes, yes, and yes. You know how I feel. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen to this company could be to actually meet it's goals and turn itself into a profitable business. It is at that point that the cult following might fade, and the valuation would become something based on results, and not on a fairy tale. It is at that point that a certain level of professionalism might be required of the chief executive. Perhaps that is the bottom line. This stock remains trade-able. Once Wall Street actually sees some real progress, I think this one becomes a "Strong Sell."