The Truth About Cars » Q3 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Q3 Tesla Loses $38 Million In Q3 Wed, 06 Nov 2013 11:00:22 +0000 teslamodelx-450x270

After reporting a net loss of $38 million in its Q3 filings earlier today, Tesla suffered a loss of over 12% in afterhours trading. The stock, which has grown nearly 80% since the beginning of the year shot down almost $22 since the markets closed on November 5th.

In my last look at Tesla in Q1 of 2013, the company had posted its first net income, a tidy $11 million. However, analysis revealed that the company’s profitability, which garnered praise from across the industry, could not be attributed to the OEM’s main objective, the production and subsequent sales of its automobiles. Rather, Tesla’s profit was derived from “Other Income,” which is accounting jargon for money that is made outside of the scope of the company’s normal operations.

Two fiscal quarters later, and the profitability structure of Tesla is steadily improving, with Tesla exhibiting signs of strong operational profitability. This is attributable to Tesla’s increase in gross margin to 24%, from 17% at the beginning of the year. The company reported a gross profit of about $103 million for the quarter. What this means is that by simply taking all of Tesla’s sales, less the costs of goods sold,  the company is in the black. Contrast that from a year ago, when Tesla’s gross loss was almost $9 million.

This is quite an encouraging figure, especially considering the steady decline of ZEV credit revenues. Back in Q1, ZEV credits were responsible for 12% of Tesla’s revenue, while it now equates to about 2% of total sales. Additionally, Tesla’s Statement of Cash Flows reports positive cash flows from operations of $102 million.

One thing that has not changed for the company is its struggle to manage its operating expenses. With a total of $133 million for the quarter, Tesla’s fixed costs effectively wipe out any profitability achieved on the top line. For the past two quarters, Tesla’s operating expenses equaled about 30% of sales. While gross margin has improved, there is simply not enough unit contribution to cover the remaining costs when costs of sales are 86% of revenue. The recipe to profitability is simple. Tesla must either bring down its fixed costs, or continue to improve its margins. A combination of both is the best case scenario.

In its letter to shareholders, Tesla remarks that R&D costs are up due to work on a right hand drive configuration for the Model S, and development work on the Model X. Selling General and Admin (SG&A) also increased, as the company is pushing its global expansion and growing its Supercharger network. Both of these expenses are key to Tesla’s future success. Continued development and innovation of new and existing technologies is essential for the electric automaker to diversify its product offerings while also continuing to make them more practical and accessible to the larger population. As a result, a reduction in operating expenses seems unlikely in the near future.

One of the primary responsibilities of any publicly traded company is to deliver value to its shareholders. With an earnings per share figure of $-2.09, Tesla has not done a great job of doing so to date. While it is still too early to tell whether the hype is real for Tesla, it is clear that after today’s results, some of the luster has been lost. I am no investment advisor, but I am a fan of history, and historically, Tesla’s poor profitability has remained a constant.

All figures taken from Tesla’s SEC Filing

Graeme Kreindler is an HBA Candidate at the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario. 

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OMG! Toyota Makes Money At Home! What’s The Nikkei Going To Do Now? Also: Toyota Top Management Answers Mike978′s Questions Wed, 06 Feb 2013 18:09:06 +0000  

Waiting for Godot-san

In my report from Toyota’s quarterly results, there was one thing I forgot to mention decided to keep for later. As long as I have been going to these things, and it has been a while, the first question has always been given to a Nikkei reporter. Old Japanese custom, like AP (and recently Reuters) at the Whitehouse. As long as I have been going to these things, the Nikkei reporter always asked when Toyota wants to make a profit and pay taxes at home. That kabuki dance is disguised as “when can we expect positive results on an unconsolidated basis?” The folks in the room need no translation, they roll their eyes and pens, or check their Brakkubely. That’s a Blackberry for you. This time, it was different.

Read the fineprint

Keeping with traditions, the first question went to the Nikkei reporter. Keeping with traditions, the Nikkei reporter asked about Toyota making profit and paying taxes at home reporting positive results on an unconsolidated basis.  Takahiko Ijichi was prepared for the question.

Answering Mike978′s questions about the currency rate

Ijichi begged forgiveness for having had to book  an operating loss of  46.2 billion yen ($500 million) for the last quarter, because this is “where expenses seem to be concentrated”, but for the nine months, Toyota is in the green to the tune of 21.5 billion yen ($230 million) in at home Nipponese operating income. For the full year, Toyota expects 150 billion yen ($1.6 billion)  in at home operating income, of which 140 billion yen  ($1.5 billion) go on account of an  improving exchange rate, Ijichi said, thereby also answering a question from the ranks of the TTAC commentariat.

Now what?

Ijichi had even better news for folks who feign concern about Toyota making profits and paying taxes at home in Japan, as opposed to raking it in in far-away places such as America or Southeast-Asia, only to dump it into a strong yen-lined black hole at home:

“For the first time in five years, we now have a clear prospect of achieving positive operating income on a non-consolidated basis.”

As long as the yen is going into the right direction, that is.  The way it stands,  the Nikkei will have to re-write the kabuki script and come up with another question to be asked at every Toyota press conference.


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Toyota Promises Higher Profits And Flat Sales Tue, 05 Feb 2013 19:37:34 +0000

Here we go. Are you sitting down?

Presenting its Q3 financials in Tokyo today, Toyota delivered much higher profits and much higher sales while promising even higher profits at pretty much flat sales for the future. With a man on his left who looked like an accountant, and who had a big accountant’s briefcase on his knee, ready to pull whatever document his master needs, and a very quiet Shigeru Hayakawa on his right, Toyota Senior Managing Officer Takahiko Ijichi did forecast a net profit of 860 billion yen ($9.3 billion) for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2013 up from the previously forecasted 780 billion yen. He also signaled a pause in Toyota’s rapid expansion:

“We were supposed to have learned a lesson from the Lehmann shock, but maybe, these lessons have not been fully taken into consideration. Volume increase is not tantamount to growth of the company.”

Takahiko Ijichi: Remember carmageddon

Basically, Ijichi announced that Toyota will not build any new factories within the next three years. Toyota will be on the hunt for “muda”, or waste, and will maximize the production capacity of existing plants. Toyota does not want to make the before-Lehmann mistake again, where rapid build-up in volume went hand-in-hand with a rapid build-up of plants and fixed costs. Projects that are planned will be finished, but there won’t be new plans.

The profit for the quarter would have been one billion dollar higher, would there not have been the “decrease as a result of “recording costs related to the settlement of the economic loss litigation in the United States.” A billion dollars, thrown to the lawyerly wolves, was stuck into “other.” The impact barely registered on the P&L.

Ijichi and his trusted side-kick

Reporters wanted to know how China affects Toyota’s bottom line. Ijichi remained vague. Due to different fiscal calendars, the reporting quarter from October to December 2012 reflects July through September in China, which were largely unaffected by the recent China Japan relations,” as Ijichi put it. He figures, the China affair may cost Toyota “200,000 units or less” in the second half of the current fiscal.

“Volume increase is not tantamount to growth.”

Toyota appears to be quite sanguine about the China matter. The company has its eyes and focus set on Southeast Asia, a market of more than 9 million units which grew 14 percent last year. Toyota sold 1.5 million cars in this region last year, and it wants to sell more. In China, Toyota wants to sell 900,000 units this year.

Speaking of sales, Toyota again confounded the reporters that were assembled in its basement meeting room. Those who cite the press release are either completely confused, or they don’t notice the confusion. Today, Toyota announced that from April 2012 to March 2013, it intends to sell 8.85 million units worldwide.

The fourth estate, JDM spec

A week ago, Toyotas said it sold 9.75 million for calendar 2012. Some reporters, who noticed the difference, wrote the 8.85 million are without Daihatsu and Hino. A Toyota spokesman told TTAC later that Daihatsu and Hino are included in the 8.85 million, China is not. Toyota sold 840,000 units in China last year. Close enough. For this year,Toyota wants to add maybe two percent to its sales and plans for flat production numbers.

My drop in the “goiken bako” the suggestion box of the Toyota Way: Avoid quarterly muri and muda by mentioning the Chinese units somewhere, so that the numbers reconcile. A separate handout would suffice.

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October Surprise: GM’s Q3 Numbers Better Than Expected Wed, 31 Oct 2012 14:16:22 +0000

GM delivered its October surprise by posting what Reuters calls “a surprisingly strong profit.” In a bit of a hail Mary pass, GM said it is targeting a return to break-even levels in Europe by mid-decade.

GM’s third-quarter net income fell to $1.48 billion from $1.74 billion a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, GM earned 93 cents a share, surprising analysts who expected only 60 cents.

In Europe, GM expects a full-year operating loss of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion, depending on what restructuring costs will be in the fourth quarter. GM hopes for slightly better European results in 2013, and to reach break-even there by mid-decade. Hope springs eternal, especially in  the week before the elections.

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After The Water Torture: Nissan Walks Away As The Hero Wed, 08 Feb 2012 19:26:27 +0000  

Was it luck? Was it hard work? A mixture of both? After escaping a near collision with fate in Iwaki, and not even getting its feet wet in Thailand, Nissan emerges as the most successful after the trials brought on by the unholy triad of tsunami, flood and yen. We said this a while ago when we compared 2011 production numbers of Japan’s majors.

Today, we go to Yokohama to check the balance sheets.

In the most unceremonious way, Japan’s second largest automaker Nissan today stands out as the country’s most profitable. On the 8th floor of Nissan’s glitzy building by the Yokohama waterfront, there is no arm-waving Carlos Ghosn today who fills the room with French-accented quotables. In his stead, Nissan fields a nondescript Nissan’s Corporate Vice President, Joji Tagawa, to present thgwe quarterly results.

The bespectacled  VP with chin fuzz and spiky hair rattles off words and numbers as if his life would depend on the speed of their delivery. It does not matter: The numbers could have been delivered by a silent nun, they still would have conveyed their punch:

Both in the October-December quarter, and also in its guidance for the results of the fiscal year which ends on March 31st, Nissan trounced Honda and Toyota. October-December, Nissan’s  operating profit was 118.1 billion yen ($1.54 billion). Net profit amounted to 82.67 billion yen ($1.07 billion.)  Even better, Nissan sticks with its profit forecast for the fiscal that calls for a net profit of 290 billion yen ($3.8 billion).

Post water torture, Nissan appears to be in the best shape of all.

While Toyota and Honda had to scrounge for cars and parts, and still are supply constrained to some extent, Nissan rebounded quickly and gained market share around the world. Toyota lost 240,000 cars to the Thai flood, Honda’s plant in Thailand was submerged for months and is a near total write-off. And Nissan? Only 33,000 units went down the drain.

Now, let’s see whether they can keep it up.

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Secret Recipe Revealed: How FAW Gets A Tiguan Without SAIC Losing Face Sat, 20 Aug 2011 18:12:35 +0000

SUVs are hot in China, and VW’s SUVlet, the Tiguan has turned into a hot seller. In the last few months, it steadily worked itself up the SUV charts and was in the second position in July, behind the Honda CR-V, and before the Nissan Qashqai. In China, the Tiguan is made by Volkswagen’s southern joint venture with Shanghai Volkswagen. What to do when Volkswagen’s Northern joint venture with FAW develops offroadish desires?

China Car Times heard around the hot water dispenser (they like to drink hot water in China, yuck, I know) that First Automobile Works has signaled its wishes that Volkswagen should go off-road with them. Volkswagen can hardly give them the Tiguan as well. That would be taking socialism too far.  So what’s Volkswagen to do?

Best-selling SUVs, China, July 2011
Rank Model Brand Units
1 CR-V Honda 12,706
2 Tiguan VW 11,457
3 Qashqai Nissan 10,542
4 Highlander Toyota 8,817
5 Haval H series Great Wall 8,394
6 Tiggo Chery 8,295
7 ix35 Hyundai 8,139
8 RAV4 Toyota 7,189
9 5008/Nomad II Zotye 6,971
10 Sportage R Kia 5,462
Source: CAAM

According to (British born) Ash Sutcliffe of China Car Times, “FAW are working with VW to produce their own self designed VW SUV on top of the Tiguan platform.”

Now Ash, Volkswagen would NEVER do that and cheat their Shanghainese partners. Let me show you how this works at Volkswagen: Everybody knows that the Audi Q3 is coming to China next year, right? The car, unveiled at the Shanghai Motorshow with yours truly snapping away and Ash without camera, will be made by Audi’s  JV partner – FAW.

The Tiguan and the Q3 are based on the current Golf platform. (NOT MQB as erroneously stated on occasion.) Being an Audi, the Q3 will be built by FAW. FAW also makes the Golf. The Tiguan and Q3 are based on – the Golf. Now if that rumor is true, Volkswagen would never ever help FAW to build an SUV on top of the Tiguan platform. That would break the contract and good form.

They’ll help them build an SUV on the Golf platform! What’s wrong with that? It could even look a bit like the Q3. I mean, all these SUVlets look alike anyway, right? Especially in China. Everybody keeps face, everybody happy. Now, where’s the next KTV?

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Q3, Q.E.D. Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:43:09 +0000

As of this moment, Audi has no plans to bring its Q3 “Crossunder” into the MINI Countryman/BMW X1/Nissan Juke/Mitsubishi Outlander Sport battle for the hearts of downsizing CUV-lovers brewing here in the US market… and yet Audi of America is teasing the thing on its Youtube channel. Does this mean we can expect this 3,300-ish lb CUV, offering 48.2/16.24 cubic feet of storage (rear seats down/up) to arrive stateside at some point? We’d certainly be surprised if that didn’t happen somewhere down the line…

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Audi Q3 To Be Launched In Fall? Tue, 18 Jan 2011 16:19:58 +0000

Audi might show its SUV for Lilliputians, the Q3, at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September for a launch later in the year. At least that’s what the buzz in Europe is.

The rumor mill guesses that the Q3 will be based on the Volkswagen Tiguan platform. It should look something like the Audi Cross Coupe Quattro Concept, first shown way back in Shanghai in 2007.

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