Tesla (TSLA) delivery estimates are plunging as growth story dissipates


Tesla (TSLA) delivery estimates are plunging as growth story dissipates

Analysts are releasing a wave of delivery estimate downgrades for Tesla as the automaker’s growth story is dissipating – at least for the next few years.

Tesla’s stock has been performing poorly this year. It is one of the worst-performing stocks in the S&P500.

There are several different arguable reasons for that, but the main one appears to be Tesla’s dissipating growth story and the lack of a clear path back to it in the near term.

While Elon Musk likes to say that Tesla is a conglomeration of several different companies operating in a multitude of industries, its performance is almost entirely tied to vehicle sales for now.

Tesla has been growing at a roughly 50% rate per year on that front until last year, when it started to slow down.

It has been an incredible performance, but now the automaker has warned that its growth will slow this year as it is “between two waves of growth” with nothing in its lineup that can significantly contribute to its vehicle sales.

Wall Street analysts are trying to adjust to this new situation for Tesla, but they are having issues coming up with new numbers for this year and Tesla hasn’t said much.

Companies normally give clear guidance, but Tesla is an exception. For 2024, Tesla only noted that its growth rate “may be notably lower than the growth rate achieved in 2023.”

It leaves a lot of room for speculation – and Wall Street loves to speculate.

Tesla had record deliveries of 484,507 vehicles last quarter for a 20% year-over-year growth rate, and it delivered 422,875 in Q1 2023.

Now, analysts are trying to estimate how many vehicles Tesla will deliver in Q1 2024 with a few weeks left in the quarter and it hasn’t been looking good.

As of a few days ago, the consensus was 479,400 vehicles, which is slightly down quarter-to-quarter, but up significantly year-over-year, which would be expected as Tesla added production capacity at Gigafactory Texas and Berlin in 2023 – though it did had issues in Berlin this month with the factory being shut down for a week.

However, several analysts have released lower expectations in the last few days – leading to a gloomier look at the first quarter of the year for the automaker.

Deutsche Bank now estimates 427,000 deliveries in Q1, which would be a massive disappointment for Tesla.

UBS also lowered its estimate from 466,000 to 432,000 units in Q1.

Several other firms are making similar moves over the last few days – often accompanied by downgrades on Tesla’s stock. Most serious estimates now put Tesla’s deliveries between 425,000 and 435,000 units in Q1.

Tesla is expected to release its production and delivery numbers in the first few days of April.

Electrek’s Take

This is a real problem for Tesla. As I previously wrote, I think the Cybertruck was a mistake – not because it’s not a good vehicle, but because the resources spent developing it would have been better spent on a higher volume vehicle for Tesla to shorten the time between the two growth phases.

Now, Tesla is not expected to go back to a significant level of growth until 2027 based on its own estimates:

That’s a long time for what has been described as a “growth stock”.

Now, I honestly don’t know if these new lower estimates make sense for Q1. Tesla has seen lower production at Gigiafactory Shanghai due to the Chinese New Year and the shutdown at Gigafactory Berlin due to the arson attack.

On the demand side, Tesla is offering some significant discounts to sell everything it has, as usual.

Is that enough for a drop of 50,000 to 60,000 units quarter-to-quarter? I don’t know, maybe? What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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