In advance of Tesla’s planned third-quarter earnings report next month, CEO Elon Musk disclosed global Model S sales in September were a record high, and North American sales are up 65 percent year over year.
The data was provided by the briefest of disclosures: a tweet, and it’s been a favorite form of communication before for the company head to occasionally share big news with few details.
His tweet said it was a response to an article by the influential Wall Street Journal which cited Wards data stating Tesla sales are down 26 percent for the past nine months. The WSJ suggested this was part of why Tesla just initiated a new lease program and 90-day return policy for Model S.
Actually, Tesla had said it was able to offer leases up to 25-percent less because of less expensive capital provided through US Bank.
Tesla did not respond to inquiries for the WSJ story, and the story did cite previous Musk statements that U.S. sales are being supply constrained, and this remains true even if September was up according to the company head.
Tesla does not report month-to-month numbers and so does keep industry analysts guessing, poring over news reports, known capacity, previous performance, registrations where available and more clues to compile month-over-month guesstimates.
Apparently Ward’s inaccurate guesstimate used by the WSJ struck enough of a nerve with Tesla to come out and give a better clue in order to refute the costly negative publicity.
After the WSJ report saying Tesla’s lease deal constituted “incentives” to bolster flagging U.S. sales, Tesla’s stock immediately declined 5.8 percent to $221.67 at the close on NASDAQ.
Musk’s tweet constitutes calculated damage control, and yesterday Bloomberg cited Credit Suisse analyst Daniel Galves who wrote the WSJ report was “too misleading to ignore.”
Unsaid by Musk’s tweet, however, was what production and sales were in the other two months of Q3 – July and August. For roughly four weeks overlapping these months, the Fremont plant was shut down for retooling for Model X production and this did cut Model S supply temporarily.
But in the final analysis, at this stage in the growing company’s development, poring over sales at a granular level is not necessarily an accurate indicator of long-term or intermediate-term growth or potential.
Industry analyst Alan Baum observed Tesla is also stocking its overseas pipelines with shiny new Model S sedans for buyers in various markets. Each one of these taken from finite production capacity at Fremont means one less sale in the U.S.
A clearer picture of Tesla’s financial health will be given when the company discloses via Webcast Nov. 5 its third-quarter financial results. This will be after the market closes, as usual, and is scheduled for 5:30 Eastern Time, 2:30 Pacific.