Tesla reported Wednesday wider-than-expected loss of $702 million, or $4.10 a share, in the first quarter after disappointing delivery numbers, costs and pricing adjustments to its vehicles threw the automaker off of its profitability track.
The loss included $188 million of non-recurring charges. When adjusted for one-time losses, Tesla lost $494 million, or $2.90 a share, compared with a loss of $3.35 a share a year ago. Tesla reported that it also incurred $67 million due to a combination of restructuring and other non-recurring charges.
While analysts had anticipated a loss — an adjusted loss of $1.15 a share on sales of $5.4 billion for the quarter, according to Factset — actual losses stretched far beyond those expectations.
“This was one of the most complicated quarters” in Tesla’s history, CFO Zachary Kirkhorn noted during an earnings call Wednesday, noting the automaker’s push to deliver Model 3s overseas as well as several other activities.
Tesla and CEO Elon Musk warned earlier this month that it expected first-quarter profits to be negatively impacted by lower than expected delivery volumes and several pricing adjustments. This was the first earnings report since losing a federal tax credit (more specifically half of it) for its buyers on Jan. 1.
Tesla reported April 9 that it delivered 63,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter of the year, nearly a one-third drop from the previous quarter. Deliveries included about 50,900 Model 3 vehicles and 12,100 Model S and X SUVs.
Musk reiterated the delivery problems due to unforeseen challenges in the earnings call Wednesday, noting that a large number of vehicle deliveries has shifted to the second quarter.
“Everyone expected a first quarter loss for Tesla, but nobody expected it to be this big,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader said in an emailed statement. “What’s interesting is how there really isn’t a single, substantial factor driving this.”
Brauer pointed to a combination of smaller factors coming together, including the tax rebate loss, more competition and the “initial rush of Model 3 demand fully satiated”. And you have the increased level of Tesla alternatives. He also noted that these issues are going away. “This is the new normal for Tesla,” Brauer said.
The results reported Wednesday follow two consecutive quarters of profitability that were fueled by sales of the Model 3. Tesla reported a $139 million profit in the fourth quarter and in October posted its first profit after seven consecutive quarters of losses.
Tesla reported that its cash position decreased by $1.5 billion from the end of 2018 to $2.2 billion mainly due to the repayment of convertible notes, of which $188 million negatively impacted operating cash flow. Tesla paid off its $920 million convertible bond obligation in cash in March.
Here are a few of the highlights:
- Tesla’s Q1 revenues were $4.5 billion, compared to $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter
- Tesla’s Q1 operating cash flow less capital expenditures dropped to a loss to $920 million, compared to a positive $910 million in the fourth quarter
Tesla first-quarter earnings follows a series of announcements by the company, including changes to the drivetrain design on the Model S and X that will increase the range of the vehicles about about 10 percent. The newly equipped Model S will now have an EPA estimated range of 370 miles, while the Model X long range variant will be able to travel 325 miles on a single charge. The cars have the same 100 kwH battery packs.
Tesla also held an event centered on its efforts to develop autonomous vehicle technology and included insight and news around its custom-built computer chip, Musk’s plans to launch a robotaxi business in 2020 and a demo ride.