Here's What to Expect From Tesla's Q4 Delivery Numbers

To meet its 2019 delivery targets of between 360,000 and 400,000 units, Tesla will need to report a minimum of 104,440 deliveries for the fourth quarter.
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The next big catalyst for Tesla's stock is coming soon -- its fourth quarter delivery figures.

Tesla typically releases its delivery numbers a few days after the close of a quarter, and this time, those numbers will also tell investors whether it has met its 2019 delivery goal of between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles. Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report shares were up 2.8% on Thursday to $429.95.

To meet its full-year target of at least 360,000 units, Tesla will need to post a minimum of 104,440 deliveries for the fourth quarter. And unsurprisingly, there’s a range of opinion on whether Tesla will cross that finish line -- and what the numbers mean for the company going forward. The consensus estimate is for Tesla to have shipped 106,000 vehicles in Q4, according to FactSet.  

Some analysts expect Tesla to easily meet its delivery goals.

In a note on Thursday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote that that Tesla is likely to “comfortably hit” its 2019 delivery guidance, and that for the fourth quarter, “both US consumer demand for Model 3 and most importantly European strength should likely drive upside this quarter.”

Also on Thursday, Canaccord Genuity analyst Jed Dorsheimer reiterated a bullish outlook on Tesla’s 2020 performance, writing that its developing business in both China and Europe will offset slowing U.S. sales and raising the firm’s price target for Tesla shares to $515. Tesla told Reuters on Thursday that it will begin delivering China-made Model 3 vehicles to buyers on Jan. 7.

"While bears have feared demand issues as a function of tax credit expiration for Tesla, we suspect a solid Q4 combined with the robust Q3 should put these fears to rest and put to rest this issue as the credit expires," Dorsheimer wrote, referring to concerns that expiring EV tax credits will damage Tesla’s sales. 

Meanwhile, other analysts such as Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne have a less rosy outlook for Tesla’s full year results. In a recent note, Osborne raised the firm’s fourth quarter delivery estimate to 101,000 from 95,000, owing to potentially higher demand in the Netherlands and China, but he still expects Tesla to fall slightly short of the full-year target.

Whatever the final fourth quarter delivery numbers are, investors can expect a reaction in Tesla’s share price.

In early October, Tesla shares fell about 4% after it reported 97,318 units delivered in the third quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates. (The price recovered in the weeks following, and skyrocketed after Tesla posted a surprise profit for that quarter.)

Looking ahead to 2020, investors will likely scrutinize Tesla’s profitability outlook and its high valuation, and further parse out whether demand for Teslas will be consistent in newer markets such as as China and Europe.

Tesla is expected to release its fourth quarter delivery numbers in the next few days, and is due to report its full quarterly financial results on Jan. 29.