Tesla’s most important earnings release

By Peter Garnry, Head of Equity Strategy at Saxo

Tesla experienced unusual headwinds in Q4 with demand weakening forcing it to aggressively cut prices this year. This makes the Q4 earnings release tomorrow one of the most important releases in the company's history.

There is no other stock in the world that has created as much drama during the pandemic as Tesla spearheading the trading frenzy among retail investors and believe in high growth scenarios. While Tesla finished 2021 on a high last year turned out to be a disaster for the stock price declining 65% as Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and public opinions scared investors.

In the final quarter of the year it became apparent that Tesla had made a gross forecasting error on demand as price hikes during the year forced because of more costly batteries combined with higher volatility in electricity prices caused demand to weaken. So far this year sentiment has come back with the stock rallying 33% from its lows and with Tesla’s recent sharp price reductions everything is up in the air.

Many have interpreted the price reductions as a move out of strength and others have seen it as a weakness. The truth is probably somewhere in between as Tesla is naturally doing it because demand has weakened, but with one of the highest operating margins in the industry Tesla has the strategic flexibility to sacrifice profitability for market share and pressure its competitors. But investors should note that when you are running a business with a 25% gross margin and you lower prices by 10-30% across your products then your bottom line will take a hit. The question is whether the demand response is big enough to off the price reduction to see the bottom line grow this year. That is what investors are going to find out in Tesla’s outlook tomorrow when it releases its Q4 earnings.

Analysts expect revenue growth of 36% y/y and EPS of $1.12 up 64% y/y. Analysts are still very bullish on revenue growth for 2023 with expectations at 30% growth despite the recent slip in deliveries and three quarters of growing difference between production and deliveries. This is also reflected in the consensus price target at $190 vs the current price of $144. Traders and investors are also expressing a bullish take on Tesla with the put-call ratio on volume being 0.79 and the put-call open interest ratio at 0.65.