Tesla sees slower 2024 volume growth as earnings miss estimates

Tesla sees slower 2024 volume growth as earnings miss estimates

Newly manufactured Tesla Cybertrucks at the company's Giga Texas factory in December 2023 weeks after it commenced deliveries of the futuristic vehicle
Newly manufactured Tesla Cybertrucks at the company's Giga Texas factory in December 2023 weeks after it commenced deliveries of the futuristic vehicle. Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Tesla reported lower fourth-quarter operating profits despite higher revenues Wednesday, following a series of auto price cuts as Elon Musk's electric vehicle giant warned of slower volume growth in 2024.

Shares of Tesla fell after the company's earnings per share and revenues both missed analysts expectations in the fourth quarter, and it offered a sobering outlook for 2024 auto volumes.

"Our company is currently between two major growth waves," said Tesla. It promised that an upcoming "next-generation" vehicle will serve as a worthy successor to the existing fleet that has built the company into a global titan.

"In 2024, our vehicle volume growth rate may be notably lower than the growth rate achieved in 2023, as our teams work on the launch of the next-generation vehicle at Gigafactory Texas," the company said.

Tesla's fourth-quarter revenues came in at $25.2 billion, up three percent from the year-ago level as auto deliveries rose 20 percent.

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The company's profits were boosted by a one-time non-cash provision of $5.9 billion related to deferred tax assets, lifting earnings under official US accounting standards to $7.9 billion.

Without that boost, profits were $2.5 billion, down nearly 40 percent from the 2022 quarter.

Shares of the electric auto company have gotten off to a rough start in 2024, falling more than 16 percent amid concerns about lackluster demand for the vehicles and EV oversupply and the hefty costs associated with ramping up the Cybertruck pickup vehicle.

The futuristic Cybertruck, a passion project for the unpredictable billionaire, has generated plenty of buzz, but Musk has cautioned that the auto will experience losses until production can be boosted.

Investors have been keen for more details on a new Tesla vehicle, with the hopes of a more affordable EV.

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"We are focused on bringing the next generation platform to market as quickly as we can, with the plan to start production at Gigafactory Texas," Tesla said. "This platform will revolutionize how vehicles are manufactured."

Bigger stake?

Musk, who has a penchant for surprising investors, added to worries earlier this month when he suggested he could look for alternatives to Tesla for artificial intelligence and robotics developments unless his Tesla stake were boosted to 25 percent from about 13 percent.

"I am uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics without having (around) 25 percent voting control," Musk said on January 15 on the X platform, formally Twitter.

Analysts at JPMorgan Chase characterized Musk's demands as negative for Tesla shares, citing the increased risk of a Musk departure and the risk of a dilution to existing shares.

Tesla's lofty stock valuation compared with other automakers is due to "side bets" associated with the name, such as the hoped-for autonomous robo-taxis, said the JPMorgan report.

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"Mr. Musk's vision and leadership, we estimate investors would assess Tesla’s potential in AI and robotics to be much less promising—particularly if he might 'build [potentially competing?] products outside of Tesla,'" said the JPMorgan note.

Shares of Tesla fell 3.4 percent in after-hours trading.

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Source: AFP

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