Tesla (TSLA) stock tumbled 9.75% on Thursday, hitting lows not seen since late January as the electric-vehicle maker reported gross margins below 20% for the first time in nearly three years.
Analysts on Wall Street reacted to the EV-giant’s earnings report yesterday, with profit sliding to $2.5 billion from $3.3 billion a year ago, with a slew of estimates cuts as concern grew over margin pressure.
The pressure comes after Tesla cut prices six times since the start of year in an attempt to reinvigorate demand, with two of those cuts coming this month in EV-maker’s second quarter.
“It’s difficult to say what the margin will be,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on the company’s earnings call when asked about how low Tesla’s profit margin could go.
The reaction from Wall Street was swift. Jefferies maintained a Buy rating on Tesla, though the bank cut its price target to $230 from $250, citing the company’s shrinking margins as a primary concern.
“Q1 did not give great confidence on price elasticity or a gross margin floor given priority on volume over near term profitability,” Jefferies wrote in a note to clients.
Though Tesla has ramped up production and deliveries of its electric vehicles over the last several quarters, leading to near record levels of revenue, production has outpaced demand. The company said it delivered 422,875 units in the first quarter while producing 440,808.
“They’re backed into a corner,” Ronald Jewsikow, Guggenheim Securities Vice President of Automotive Equity Research told Yahoo Finance Live after Wednesday’s report. “They put a lot of supply in place that needs to find a home. And the only tool they really have is cutting prices.”
Wedbush’s Dan Ives, a longtime Tesla bull, also cut his price target on the stock to $215 a share from $225 on the back of the tightening margins.
“Musk & Co. cut prices to further stimulate consumer demand in a shaky macro amidst rising EV competition globally in this EV arms race,” Ives wrote in a note to clients after the release. “With no rose-colored glasses: Margins are now a delicate issue that are keeping Tesla investors up at night.”
Overall for the first quarter, Tesla reported revenue of $23.33 billion, slightly below Street estimates of $23.35 billion, with adjusted earnings per share coming in at $0.85, below estimates of $0.86. Tesla reported net income of $2.9 billion, $700 million less than the same period a year prior.
On a positive note, Elon Musk said on the earnings call the company was aiming to have a “delivery event” at the end of the Q3 for the Cybertruck.
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