Last night, electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) notified investors that its fourth-quarter earnings release and question-and-answer session today has been rescheduled to a later time this evening. The earnings call was delayed from 15 to 20 minutes after market close to 5 p.m. ET, and the question-and-answer session following the release was delayed from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET. The likely reason for the delay is a clear reminder that Tesla CEO Elon Musk splits his priorities among several companies -- particularly between Tesla and spacecraft and rocket company SpaceX, where he also serves as CEO.
DSCOVR launch overlaps with Tesla earnings
The delayed earnings release is likely due to the one-day delay for SpaceX's DSCOVR launch, the company's first deep space mission.
#DSCOVR launch is scrubbed for high winds. Next attempt tomorrow Feb. 11, 6:03pm EST.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 10, 2015
DSCOVR is an acronym for Deep Space Climate Observatory. This mission is to launch a satellite in partnership with NOAA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force that will "observe and provide advanced warning of extreme emissions from the sun which can affect power grids, communications systems, and satellites close to Earth," according to SpaceX's website. The satellite, which will be delivered by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, will be positioned at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point, which is 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth -- a distance more than four times farther than the moon. If everything goes as planned, the DSCOVR satellite will be deployed approximately 35 minutes after liftoff.
Musk, Mars, and Tesla
The ultimate goal of SpaceX is incredibly ambitious. Musk's mission is to enable people to live on other planets. It begins with Mars, he believes. Musk wants to help build the foundation for a sustainable colony of a million people on the planet.
Could his ambitions for SpaceX eventually require a full-time commitment? Keep in mind that Musk already gives his time to other projects as well: He has said he devotes about 5% of his time to SolarCity, where he serves as chairman of the board. And don't forget about his hyperloop side project.
Musk has said on many occasions that he has only committed to being the CEO of Tesla until the ramp-up in production of its planned Model 3, which is supposed to have a more affordable $35,000 starting price. Currently, the company is targeting a 2017 launch for the car in conjunction with a 2016 to 2017 time frame for the first battery cell production at its Gigafactory, a factory purposed to bring enough economies of scale to lithium-ion batteries to enable a 30% cut in costs. After ramping up Model 3 and Gigafactory battery production, the company wants to sell 500,000 cars per year by 2020.
Given Musk's importance to Tesla's accomplishments, investors should keep in mind that the CEO's priorities are not entirely devoted to the company. Even more, there's a good chance he won't be the CEO of Tesla beyond the ramp-up in production of the Model 3.
Find a copy of Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings release around 5 p.m. ET today here. Tune into the live quarterly call at 7:30 p.m. ET here. In the meantime, check out this earnings preview detailing some of the key metrics to watch when Tesla reports its fourth-quarter results.