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Tesla's 500K Delivery Guidance in Doubt as Earnings Day Approaches

The carmaker is looking to reopen its Fremont factory very soon, which would boost its production outlook -- but is likely to face pushback from local officials.
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As Tesla's earnings report draws near, all eyes are on its delivery outlook -- as well as the tenuous situation at its flagship factory. 

Tesla is reportedly gearing up to reopen its Fremont-based main factory in the coming days, when local officials may begin allowing some limited business activity with precautions under a recently extended shelter-in-place order affecting the Bay Area. Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report shares were up 7.9% on Monday to $782.53.

Tesla closed the Fremont factory on March 19 after tussling with local officials over suspending operations at the factory, which was declared a non-essential business. In early April, Tesla announced various layoffs and furloughs tied to the shutdown, but said at the time that it expected to reopen the factory by May 4.

In a note on Monday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote that a re-opening of Tesla's main factory "would be a major boost to its production/delivery hopes and get the growth engines restarted," while also noting that the situation is liable to change. 

In a joint statement on Monday, officials from six Bay Area counties said that the current shelter-in-place order will be extended through May "largely" in its current form -- but that it will include limited easing of "specific restrictions for a small number of lower-risk activities." 

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Bay Area officials said that they will issue more detailed guidance in the coming days, and it's unclear at this point how the revised order would affect Tesla's reopening plans. Tesla's Fremont factory is located in Alameda County, Calif. 

Meanwhile, with Tesla's March quarter earnings coming up on Wednesday, investors are doubtful that the carmaker will be able to meet its full-year target of 500,000 vehicle deliveries, given the coronavirus-related impact on both Tesla's supply chain and consumer demand. 

Ives called the original 500,000 threshold "a virtual impossibility" for Tesla, and noted that Wall Street's revised expectations are probably closer to 400,000.

For the March quarter, Tesla reported 88,400 vehicle deliveries -- a better-than-expected result given concerns over factory closures in China and the U.S. and weakening demand for new cars. 

Supply and demand troubles haven't dampened Tesla's stock, however, with shares up more than 80% year to date.