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Tesla’s turnaround summer

Tesla will start delivering the first of its Model 3 cars in the coming months. The Model 3 is Tesla's most important model to date since it is the first real mass market car to emerge from the auto company. Success for the Model will go a long way in appeasing investors that continue to believe in the dream created by Elon Musk.

However, the dream to date has a few hiccups. One important hiccup is that to-date Tesla has not made a cent. That being said, the share price still increased by 850 per cent in the past five years. Year to date, the share is up 53 per cent, trading at $328 per share.

These numbers imply that investors believe that in the near future Tesla will sell so many cars that the company will not only start making money, but will start making lots of money. For the more technically minded, Tesla cannot get away with earnings less than $30 annually in the near future.

Many, myself included, are sceptical as the debt load increases and delivery promises keep being broken. The delayed and troublesome launch of the gull winged Model X in September 2015 did not help matter. The first customers received cars that had doors and windows which sometimes failed to open or close completely.

Most of the criticism is addressed towards Elon Musk personally. Musk is known as a visionary, however, he has not been able to match his reputation for brilliant ideas with practical manufacturing excellence. An option often suggested by market experts is for Tesla to take on board a big-name chief operating officer. A person that can reign-in Elon Musk's tendency to over-promise and the same time provide confidence that the automaker will ultimately deliver.

Ultimately, the company has to start making money. Analysts fear that at some point the credit market will stop believing in the Tesla's potential. Standard & Poor's already rates its debt B- and if equity investors stop believing the dream, the downward price spiral would be catastrophic.

I am not a fan of companies that do not make money, or of shares that trade at stratospheric PE levels. The market has many alternative shares may be less exciting but provide reliable returns. When it comes to investing money I believe that less excitement is ultimately a good thing. 

In the months leading to December Tesla has a chance to respond to a few important questions. The launch of the Model 3 will be and opportunity for the automaker to demonstrate that it can manufacture cars rapidly enough to meet increasing demand. Tesla must also demonstrate that it is able to match increasing production with reliability. For the time being this looks like a tall order, however, if there is anyone with the potential to surprise it is Elon Musk.

Disclaimer:

This article was issued by Antoine Briffa, Investment Manager at Calamatta Cuschieri. For more information visit, www.cc.com.mt. The information, view and opinions provided in this article is being provided solely for educational and informational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice, advice concerning particular investments or investment decisions, or tax or legal advice. Calamatta Cuschieri Investment Services Ltd has not verified and consequently neither warrants the accuracy nor the veracity of any information, views or opinions appearing on this website.

 

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