Tesla’s shares roared to over $250 on Tuesday February 5th, amid release of financial results. Tesla’s 8-K regulatory filing highlights a record 6,892 Model S’s sold, non-GAAP earnings of $46M ($0.33 on a per share basis), and projected vehicle delivery growth of 55% among others. The shares are currently trading just above the $260 during after-hours trading.
Here we find ourselves at yet another quarterly earnings report, and yet again when looking at the GAAP figures, Tesla posts a net loss of about $74 million, and an EPS of -$0.62. Yet another year of losses for Tesla, but the punch line for accounting stiffs like myself seems to be “who cares!”
From this time last year Tesla’s share price has grown over 600% (this time last year, it was trading at $34.38 versus $248 today). For those of you who have consulted my past work for free investment advice in the past, I apologize, but I am quickly learning that a business degree doesn’t turn you into Jordan Belfort overnight. To capture the highlights of Tesla’s recent results I present you with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Tesla exhibited strong quarterly sales growth with revenues up by 43%. An even more impressive figure is the fact that Tesla’s revenue grew by 387% from 2012 to 2013 which was a result of the company’s ability to deliver 22,477 vehicles throughout the year.
Tesla was also able to vastly improve its gross margin. In 2012 the company’s gross margin was just over 7%. In 2013 the margin had improved to almost 23%. By contrast, Porsche’s gross margin in 2012 was 37%. Continued growth in gross margin will be a key factor moving forward to improve profitability.
Strong cash flows from operating activities amount to roughly $258 million. This is the first year for Tesla in which it has exhibited positive cash flow from its operating activities. Tesla also has a large cash balance of over $845 million, largely driven from the proceeds of debt and equity financing.
The Bad (aka the not so good)
While I would be hard pressed to call a net loss of $74 million good, there is still some upside when comparing the loss figure to last year’s loss of $396 million. The 82% reduction in net loss and continued upward trend is a definite positive to Tesla’s less than stellar earnings. Sales growth and increased margins will only help to bring Tesla into the black in future.
However, it still seems that operating expenses are getting the best of the company. While in 2012, total operating expenses amounted to 103% of total revenues, they are only 26% in 2013. Despite the reduction, with a gross profit of only $456 million, the related operating expense figure of $517 million is gobbling up what remains of the gross profit. Selling General and Admin expenses increased by 90%, while Research and Development expenses decreased from $274 million to $232 million. As a high growth company that relies on continued innovation for success, it will be interesting to see how the company will manage R&D expenditure in the future. Tesla could find itself in a Catch-22 situation whereby revenues are dependent on new technology, but profits cannot be delivered without a decrease in its cost structure, which includes spending on this precious R&D.
The ugly fact remains that Tesla’s earnings per share is negative $0.62. Based on Tesla’s February 25th closing stock price, its Price to Earnings multiple is negative 400. Simply put, investors are willing to pay $400 for every $1 in losses the company incurs. If I were to get a message in my inbox that told me that a Nigerian Prince was willing to pay me $400 for every dollar of student debt to my name, it would quickly become part of my Happy Hour story-telling repertoire.
Now I understand that the basic fundamentals of valuation are based on a company’s future earnings, and not their past, but I wouldn’t put my precious dollars into a company before I saw some concrete return.
NB: All calculations completed using Tesla’s 8-K and 10K figures
Note: Article was ammended due to the reporter mixing the R&D and SG&A numbers.