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Tesla Is About to Report Q1 Vehicle Deliveries: What to Expect

By Daniel Sparks - Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 8:13AM

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Shares have lost more than a quarter of their value from levels seen earlier this year, so investors will be watching the company's update closely.

With the first calendar quarter of 2021 coming to a close yesterday, many companies' accounting departments are scrambling to wrap up their quarterly financials. But we won't have to wait until Tesla's (TSLA 2.41%) quarterly earnings release to get some critical, fresh insight on the company's recent progress. The electric-car maker reports its vehicle deliveries a few days after each quarter ends -- usually no later than the third day following a quarter's close.

Ahead of Tesla's quarterly update on vehicle deliveries, here's an overview of what to expect from the report and from the company's deliveries for the full year.

Four Tesla vehicles in front of mountains.

Image source: Tesla.

Deliveries could surge more than 80% year over year

On average, analysts expect Tesla to deliver about 162,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2021. This would translate to impressive 83% year-over-year growth and would put trailing-12-month deliveries at about 573,000, up from approximately 393,000 in the year-ago trailing-12-month period.

Notably, however, these deliveries would be down 10% sequentially from record Q4 deliveries of about 181,000 vehicles.

While a sequential decrease between Q4 and Q1 is seasonally normal for Tesla, analysts' forecasts for a pullback likely reflects anticipated supply shortages for vehicle production in Q1 due to constrained supply of semiconductors. The overall auto industry's vehicle production has reportedly been negatively impacted by this supply-chain issue.

Because of this potential supply shortage wildcard, it's very difficult to gauge where Tesla's first-quarter deliveries will come in. Investors should exercise caution when making predictions for the quarter.

Looking ahead

While Tesla's reported first-quarter deliveries will be important, the big question on investors' minds regarding the automaker's vehicle deliveries will be more forward looking than backward looking. Going into 2021, Tesla provided ambitious guidance for deliveries to increase more than 50% this year over 2020 levels.

This would mark a significant acceleration over 36% growth in 2020. Can Tesla still pull this off? The company's continued production ramp up of its new Model 3 and the addition of new Model Y production lines at its factories around the world are expected to be major catalysts for vehicle deliveries this year.

Of course, if Tesla reports weaker-than-expected first-quarter deliveries, it could raise some concerns from investors about the automaker's ability to hit its full-year guidance for more than 750,000 deliveries. Unfortunately, investors likely won't get to see whether management is reiterating its guidance until the company reports its first-quarter financial results, which report is usually released in late April.

Investors should keep an eye out for an update from Tesla on its first-quarter vehicle deliveries. It will likely be released on Friday or Saturday.

With shares of the growth stock down more than 25% from highs earlier this year, investors will be watching Tesla's vehicle delivery update closely to see if it can provide some upbeat news and potentially help the stock's recent downward trend find a floor.

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