Tesla Earnings: 3 Things to Watch Out For
Tesla Inc., will release its fourth-quarter earnings after markets close Wednesday. The quarterly results, which company executives including CEO Elon Musk are expected to discuss via webcast at 5:30 pm ET, are a milestone of sorts.
It’s the first time Tesla (no longer Tesla Motors) is reporting results as both an automaker and sustainable energy company following its $2.1 billion acquisition of solar panel installer SolarCity last year.
Fortune will be paying attention to more than its earnings, although a profitable quarter (under generally accepted accounting practices) would certainly get our attention. Guidance for vehicle deliveries in 2017, progress at its massive battery factory, and how SolarCity will be integrated into the business are all areas of interest.
Here are a few numbers (and stock-sensitive words) worth highlighting.
Free Cash Flow
The recent run-up in Tesla stock has set the stage for the company to raise more money in the first quarter of 2017 by selling more shares, Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a note Wednesday morning.
“We would not be surprised to see a $2.5 billion raise instead of the $1.5 billion equity raise currently reflected in our model,” Johnson wrote.
Fortune will be looking for guidance on future capital-raising efforts, as well as taking a look at Tesla’s free cash flow—basically the cash that it has left over from its sales after accounting for capital expenditures such as equipment and buildings.
Tesla is facing some expensive months ahead as it prepares to produce the Model 3, continues to scale its massive battery factory outside of Reno, and integrate SolarCity into its business. The less robust the cash flow, the more likely that the company will need to raise more shares.
The noise surrounding Tesla’s upcoming mass market electric vehicle has been largely speculatory. That changed earlier this month when Tesla made its first public steps to prepare for Model 3 production.
The company said Feb. 9 it will shut down production at its California assembly plant for a week this month to prepare for production of the Model 3 sedan. The planned shutdown will allow Tesla to add capacity to its paint shop and conduct other maintenance, the company said at the time.
Fortune will be listening for more details on its production and delivery dates—the company has a history of delaying vehicle rollouts—as well as information about the vehicle itself.
Tesla isn’t just an automaker anymore. The company has an energy storage division and a solar panel installation business. While the autos side tends to get the attention, the energy division has the potential to be more disruptive, particularly its grid-scale product Powerpack.
An important project in Hawaii, which combines SolarCity solar panels with Tesla’s grid batteries, is on the verge of being operational. It will be the first time a utility has contracted for a system that stores and releases solar energy after the sun sets.
Fortune will be listening for future guidance on this division, particularly mentions of future projects and sales projections for 2017.