It’s shaping up to be a rough day for Elon Musk.
Shares at his Tesla were down sharply this morning on horrific Q1 delivery numbers. Those numbers came out as the CEO readies to learn his faith resulting from being held in contempt of court for violating an agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange. That court hearing is scheduled for today.
Miss Not Just Bad, But Record-Setting Bad
Tesla reported a record decline in deliveries in the first quarter. During the three months, Tesla produced about 77,000 vehicles, consisting mainly of its flagship Model 3. The Model S and Model X rounded out the bunch.
It managed to deliver 63,000 of those vehicles, which was 31% less than the previous quarter. During the fourth quarter, it delivered 90,966 vehicles.
First quarter deliveries included 50,900 Model 3s and 12,100 Model S and X units.
Sorry, we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable. We’re making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2018
Not only did Tesla disappoint in deliveries, but it also disappointed analysts. The Model 3 numbers were significantly lower than analysts’ expectations of 52,450.
In its fourth-quarter financial report, Tesla said it expected to deliver between 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles in 2019. That would be a jump by as much as 65% over 2018 numbers. Musk doubled down on the figures in a tweet in February, and that’s the one that sparked the SEC to call for the CEO to be held in contempt of court for violating an agreement over tweeting.
Meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k, ie 10k cars/week. Deliveries for year still estimated to be about 400k.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 20, 2019
Who To Blame Now
In the release over these figures, Tesla pointed to Europe and China.
Due to a massive increase in deliveries in Europe and China, which at times exceeded 5x that of prior peak delivery levels, and many challenges encountered for the first time, we had only delivered half of the entire quarter’s numbers by March 21, ten days before the end of the quarter. This caused a large number of vehicle deliveries to shift to the second quarter. At the end of the first quarter, approximately 10,600 vehicles were in transit to customers globally.
That clearly didn’t quell Wall Street’s anxieties about the company. In a note published by CNBC, Morgan Stanley said:
“1Q19 is shaping up to be one TSLA may want to forget, but needs to explain to shareholders who own it as a LT disruptor. We felt the #1 2019 determinant for TSLA’s share price was if it could prove to the mkt. it can be self-funding on a sustainable basis.”
Even more aggravating was the EV-maker’s warning that its first-quarter income will “be negatively impacted.”
Funny Math, Tweets Not Funny Anymore
Investment advisor Gary Kaltbaum said on Fox Business Thursday morning:
It’s generous to say that they’ve been just inconsistent with their numbers, and Wall Street hates inconsistency. Elon Musk can’t continue to come out and state numbers and miss them by wide margins just about every quarter or you’re going to pay a stiff penalty. I really do believe this going to open up more violations from the SEC as we move forward and that is not good for shareholders.
The contempt of court hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. this afternoon in Manhattan.