The Tesla gross profit issue:
An automaker’s warranty provision – like warranty costs incurred – is commonly part of COGS and thus it directly affects automotive gross margin. Reducing warranty provisions inflates it and many observers, including me, speculate that Tesla subsumes warranty costs in part under SG&A or the precariously deficitary services and other segment, discussed below, in order to inflate automotive gross margin further.
Unlike its peers, Tesla includes neither R&D nor the operation of its own dealerships in automotive cost of revenue. The gross margin metric also is a driver for the CEO’s stock option awards. Analysts have so far refrained from questioning Tesla’s highly problematic gross margin calculation and thus heavily skewed industry peer comparison in conference calls and research notes. For Q1 2019 automotive gross margin would have come in at 15.6% instead of 20.2%, a material difference of about 25%.
And about Tesla’s in-house chip design capability:
Despite decades of American IC design, layout and fabrication prowess, with short-term involvement of Jim Keller of Apple and AMD IC design fame, Tesla insisted that it had to turn to Chinese experts in order to obtain the “brain” that's instrumental in its Level 5 autonomous driving effort, replacing Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) as a supplier. The company stated: “For a product as safety critical to consumers, and critical to the essence of Tesla, we turned to industry experts who could achieve this quality and complexity in addition to the deadlines, which was not possible outside of China.” On 3rd May, U.S. trade officials rejected Tesla’s bid for relief from President Trump’s 25% tariffs on Chinese exports to the U.S., on its Chinese-made “brain” for Model 3.
And with regard to the EV market growth:
A side effect of un-coordinated governmental intervention is that it often promotes, possibly inadvertently, expensive, oversized, overweight and thus highly unsustainable BEVs, making them particularly attractive for wealthy households that often purchase EVs as a secondary or even tertiary vehicle – as a material feel-good icon that shall demonstrate their concern for the environment. However, wanting to better the world by way of oversized overweight BEVs amounts to nothing but arriving at the beach to drain the ocean with a teaspoon.
The main barriers to EV adoption, particularly in sales regions with low or no subsidies, incentives and benefits, are high price and insurance premiums, followed by range, particularly during the winter season, and the lack of ubiquitous and convenient city and roadside charging infrastructure. The existing strata of high net worth individuals in the aforementioned global growth regions are too small to effect a swift substantial fleet rotation away from ICEVs. For most consumers in those regions, used cars and low-priced ICEVs will remain the dominant vehicle type of choice, the car being the costliest discretionary purchase for most households.
And then there’s the guidance issue:
https://seekingalpha.com/article/426491 ... ?dr=1#alt2
On 30th January 2019, Tesla’s CEO stated in the Q4 2018 shareholder letter that the company expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 cars in 2019. A few hours later, Tesla’s CEO said on the Q4 2018 earnings call that the company will deliver 350,000 to 500,000 Model 3s in 2019. On 19th February, Tesla’s CEO tweeted Tesla will make around 500,000 cars in 2019 to then tweet Tesla will rather achieve a 500,000 car production run-rate at the end of 2019. On 28th February, Tesla’s CEO said on a call with journalists that the company will produce 420,000 to 600,000 cars in 2019. On 3rd April 2019, Tesla’s CEO stated in the Q1 2019 shareholder letter that the company expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 cars in 2019, as initially stated in January. Erratic management guidance for core product production and sales does certainly not help to restore investor confidence.
Care to refute, discount the source, or the typical ad hominem?