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Tesla, Inc. Hits Low End of Guidance, Issues Cautious Outlook as Model 3 Launch Looms

By Evan Niu, CFA – Jul 5, 2017 at 7:51AM

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Over the holiday weekend, electric-car maker Tesla (TSLA 0.72%) announced that it had delivered "just over" 22,000 vehicles in the second quarter, including approximately 12,000 Model S sedans and 10,000 Model X SUVs. That brought total deliveries for the first half of the year to 47,100.

That's near the low end of guidance, which called for deliveries of 47,000 to 50,000 for the first half. Tesla provided that guidance in February and then reiterated the same range in May. Tesla produced just over 25,700 vehicles during the quarter.

Tesla vehicles driving side-by-side on a road

Image source: Tesla.

100 kWh constraints

The company also said that deliveries were adversely impacted by a production shortfall of its 100 kWh battery packs, which were introduced last August and deliver over 300 miles of EPA-rated range. These packs are made on new production lines "using new technologies," according to Tesla. Once the production constraints were overcome in early June, deliveries picked up.

CEO Elon Musk has said that Tesla won't pursue higher capacities beyond 100 kWh for Model S, Model X, or Model 3, but will instead focus on cost reductions. The forthcoming Tesla Semi or Tesla pickup truck may require more than 100 kWh.

The difference between production and deliveries was nearly 4,000 vehicles, and Tesla said that it continues to build out inventory for its retail stores that are available for test drives, as well as adding vehicles to its service loaner fleet. However, Tesla did not disclose how many vehicles were in transit at quarter end, which it has done for the past five quarters.

Cautious outlook

Musk also shared over the weekend that Model 3 will commence production on Friday, and the first vehicles will be delivered at an event later this month.

In terms of guidance for the second half of the year: "Provided global economic conditions do not worsen considerably, we are confident that combined deliveries of Model S and Model X in the second half of 2017 will likely exceed deliveries in the first half of 2017."

If deliveries in the second half are comparable to the first half, full-year deliveries would be in the neighborhood of 94,000, representing roughly 23% growth from 2016. That's fairly cautious outlook, particularly as Model 3 is expected to drive volumes provided that the company can ramp production without any hiccups. Musk hopes to produce 20,000 Model 3 vehicles in the month of December alone (in line with prior guidance of producing 5,000 per week by year's end).

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Tesla. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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