The world's hottest growth stock, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), will report earnings on Thursday. With the stock up about 600% in two years, you can bet the report will be closely scrutinized. Even more, the focus will mostly be pinned to forward-looking statements, given the wildly optimistic future already priced into the stock. Here are the areas you will want to watch.
While the typical metrics that provide analysts with inputs for their near-term models will be important, the areas that will make or break Tesla are much bigger projects, like international expansion, the Model X launch, the Gigafactory, and Tesla's plans for the Model 3.
Tesla has recently expanded Model S sales to some very important markets, including the U.K., China, Australia, and Hong Kong. Investors should look for updates on these markets in the company's second-quarter letter to shareholders or the conference call.
Given Tesla's comments on China potentially being the company's biggest market, investors should hope Tesla is just as optimistic after several months of sales in the country.
Also, Tesla has said it plans to expand Model S sales to Japan "later this summer," so look for Tesla to be on track with this expansion as well.
Tesla surprised investors in June when it sent a note to Model X reservation holders saying it would begin production for Model X customers in "early 2015." Before that email, Tesla was saying that it was "on track to ramp up production in the spring of 2015."
Look for an update from Tesla about when it plans to deliver the first Model X to customers, and whether deliveries will be in limited quantity or in full-speed production.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of Tesla's Gigafactory. As a supply limited company, Tesla has one major bottleneck: lithium-ion battery production. The Gigafactory is Tesla's answer to this problem.
Further, the Gigafactory will not only take production yield for Tesla battery packs to a whole new level, but it is supposed to scale production and cut costs by more than 30% by the time the factory ramps up production in 2017, Tesla says.
And most importantly of all, it's the Gigafactory and this 30% reduction in cost that is going to enable Tesla to produce and sell its more affordable Model 3, reaching production capacity of 500,000 vehicles by 2020 -- a figure that makes 2014's guidance for 35,000 Model S deliveries look comparatively meaningless.
Investors should look for comments that suggest the company is on track with its Gigafactory plans for it to be complete in 2017. Also, look for continued confidence that a 30% reduction is achievable.
Earlier this month, Tesla finally gave the rumored more affordable car it is planning to build a name: the Model 3. Given Tesla's $28 billion market capitalization, this game-changing vehicle is arguably already priced into the stock. So, execution on this car is absolutely paramount.
Tesla has said the car is going to be about 20% smaller, have range in excess of 200 miles, and come at a price of about $35,000. Look for continued confidence that Tesla can pull off this important feat.
Other areas to keep an eye on include comments on a drive unit problem some owners are complaining about in the forums, potential collaboration with other electric vehicle manufacturers on charging infrastructure, and expansion plans for Tesla's Supercharger network and service stations.