Since its last earnings report, Tesla Motors (TSLA) - Get Reportis down 11% in spite of a 2% gain for the Nasdaq. While it wouldn't be right to say expectations are low going into the EV maker's third-quarter earnings report -- the company does, after all, still sport a $30 billion market cap -- markets probably aren't looking for spectacular numbers as much as a guidance reiteration and signs of healthy bottom-line execution.
Some fresh details about the progress of Tesla's ambitious long-term projects also wouldn't hurt.
Tesla's Q3 report is due after the close on Wednesday, and will be followed by a conference call starting at 5:30 P.M. Eastern Time. On average, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect revenue of $2.34 billion (up 88% annually) and EPS of $0.06 (improved from a $0.58 loss a year ago).
TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa and Lou Whiteman will be live blogging Tesla's earnings report and conference call on Wednesday afternoon. Check out our home page for details.
Tesla has already reported it delivered 24,500 vehicles -- 15,800 Model S sedans and 8,700 Model X SUVs -- in Q3, up 70% sequentially and putting the company in good position to hit a target of 50,000 second-half deliveries. Though questions linger about the role discounts may have played in driving sales, shares rallied following the disclosure.
Investors will likely pay close attention to the margins and average selling prices (ASPs) recorded on these sales. Excluding zero emission vehicle credits, Tesla's automotive gross margin was 21.9% in Q2, up 190 points sequentially but down 200 points annually. Model S ASP rose slightly sequentially in Q2, but Model X ASP was pressured by a mix shift away from expensive Signature Series units.
Also likely to get attention: Tesla's remarks on the progress it's making towards ramping production at its battery-making Gigafactory, and commercializing its relatively cheap Model 3 sedan ($35,000 start price). The company recently disclosed any new Model 3 reservations won't be filled until mid-2018, after promising late-2017 delivery to those who reserved earlier. Tesla insists the latter target remains in place.
Then there's Tesla's controversial planned acquisition of fellow Elon Musk company SolarCity (SCTY) . SolarCity's shares have sold off amid fears the deal won't go through, and any comments about where the transaction now stands will be listened to attentively. On Friday, Tesla is expected to reveal a solar roof solution that relies on SolarCity's panels.
Musk will probably field additional questions about Tesla's autonomous driving efforts on the call. The company is less than a week removed from unveiling an Enhanced Autopilot solution for newly-manufactured Teslas (available in December as a $5,000 software update), and promising these cars will eventually be capable of fully autonomous driving (that will cost an extra $3,000).
Look for analysts to try to tease out additional details about how and when Tesla plans to achieve its lofty ambitions on this front.