The most important piece of information from Tesla’s Q2 earnings call Thursday night might have been…the absence of information.
In its shareholder letter released after the bell, Tesla said it would end up spending $US1 billion in 2014. It saw $US2 million net cash flow from operations in Q2. And it now has $US2.7 billion in cash reserves.
So during the call, Deutsche Bank’s Rod Lache asked about the trajectory of Tesla’s spending and costs beyond this year.
CFO Deepak Ahuja first responded by saying that as Tesla’s projected near-tripling of deliveries by the end of 2015 unfolds, operating expenses as a percentage of revenues would improve.
Then Musk jumped in:
Yeah. In the past…we’ve shown all of our cards, so people have kind of gotten used to us showing all of our cards. We’re not currently showing all our cards.
“OK. All right. Well, thank you,” Roche responded, according to SeekingAlpha’s transcript.
A few minutes later, Goldman Sachs’ Patrick Archambault asked specifically about research and development spending in the shorter-term. Once again, Ahuja replied first, explaining the company was spending on “many exciting things,” and referenced the Model X electric crossover utility vehicle.
Then Musk said this:
Yeah. I mean another thing, our CapEx and R&D numbers are better than they appear because there are things you don’t know about.
“Well, ok. A lot of interesting stuff to look ahead to,” Archambault said.
What could Musk be referring to? In the shareholder letter he mentioned Tesla’s ongoing partnership with Daimler to provide drive trains to Mercedes’ new electric vehicle. Could there be more agreements with other automakers on the way? He also mentioned that once the Gigafactory is up and running the cost of Tesla’s batteries would start declining. But groundbreaking on the Gigafactory itself remains months away.
We’re not sure what the precedent for this kind of language is. But many investors believe Tesla is changing the planet. In a note this morning, Tesla bull Adam Jonas declared the company “could very well be [the] most important car company in the world.”
“While there remains significant near-term execution risk into the pace of the 4Q production ramp [Tesla lowered its Q3 delivery guidance] to make the full year target [of 35,000 vehicles delivered],” Jonas wrote, “we see no new reason to be negative on the stock and would buy weakness.”
So if anyone can get away with talking like this, it’s Elon Musk.
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