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Tesla’s First-Quarter Deliveries Seen at More Muted 174,000

Tesla is seen delivering 174,000 cars in the first quarter, well above year-ago numbers but short of its fourth-quarter total.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report is expected to have delivered 174,000 new cars in the first three months of 2021, well above what it churned out a year ago but short of what it produced and sold in the fourth quarter - and less than at least some analysts’ forecasts.

Tesla's deliveries numbers will be almost double the 88,400 vehicles it delivered in the same quarter a year ago though less than the 180,667 cars that rolled off its assembly lines in the preceding quarter.

Tesla is coming off a year in which it delivered a record 499,550 vehicles. The company said in January following its fourth-quarter earnings that it sees deliveries growing at least 50% in 2021. Tesla has a habit of releasing its delivery numbers when it fancies vs. a specific post-month or quarter date and time.   

Analysts are mixed on whether Tesla will hit its own target. Wedbush Securities' Dan Ives said in a research note that he expects Tesla to deliver exactly what it is promising - 174,000 new vehicles, up from previous estimates of 145,000, driven by Model 3 and Model Y sales.

Ives estimated that total automotive delivery revenue will ring in at $8.79 billion vs. his team’s previous estimate of $7.67 billion. His team still has a $950 price target and neutral rating on the shares.

However, long-time Tesla analyst Gene Munster expects Tesla to serve up a more muted number, with deliveries closer to 160,000 through the quarter - though he also pointed to the ongoing chip shortage as well as the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday as near-term headwinds eventually turning into long-term tailwinds.

Tesla is on the right track and is “going to participate nicely” in the future of electrification of vehicles, autonomy and other energy-related products, Munster said in his own research note.

Both analysts see strong deliveries of Tesla's lower-priced Model 3 and Model Y - as well as ramped-up production of both vehicles - as a potential upside surprise, though Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself cautioned this week that a shortage in battery cell supplies could hamper Tesla's ability to scale-up production of its semi truck.

Meantime, Volkswagen  (VWAGY) - Get Free Report is nipping at Tesla’s heels, with its focus on making electric vehicles a focus of its offerings in Europe and the U.S. Still, an announcement this week that its American unit was rebranding to “Voltswagen” turned out to be a April Fools’ Day marketing stunt.

At last check, shares of Tesla were up 2.35% at $650.54.