What We Learned from Tesla's Q3 Earnings Call
Tesla has grown at an incredible rate, but according to Elon Musk, we haven't seen anything yet. So the company's CEO made the earnings call a can't miss event for investors and enthusiasts. The third quarter earnings call highlighted expected growth, buybacks and resumes. After the call, Musk tweeted: I will not let you down, no matter what It takes. Here is a quick recap of what we learned from the 58-minute call.
First, there are some quick points before we get into more detailed highlights. Musk says quarter-four is shaping up to be "epic" and promises a record-breaking performance. Tesla is not "recession-proof," but is resilient. Musk does not see any reason to slow down production, as demand is still far more than supply. RoboTaxi is progressing. The program would provide autonomous vehicles as cabs, but hinges on the full self-driving program.
Tesla Will Have the Largest Market Cap
In his opening remarks to investors, Musk made an extraordinary prediction. He said that Tesla would have the largest market cap in the world, surpassing second-place Saudi Aramco and first-place Apple. Not only would his company take the lead, "In fact, I see a potential path for Tesla to be worth more than Apple and Saudi Aramco combined."
The combined market cap of those two companies is more than 4.4 trillion. Tesla is worth just over $690 billion. Musk says it won't be easy, but "It will require a lot of work, some very creative new products, manage expansion and always - luck… We have an incredible product portfolio. I think we've got the most exciting product portfolio of any company on earth, some of which you've heard about, some of which you haven't." He later added that this prediction did not include Optimus coming to market. Tesla recently updated its humanoid robot to be put to work in Tesla factories before being available to the world in 2027.
Buybacks Could Happen in 2023
The topic of buybacks regularly surfaces during these earnings calls. Musk said that it has been discussed, "extensively at the Board level. The Board generally thinks that it makes sense to do a buyback." He added that the company would be looking at doing a buyback of $5 to $10 billion, and even if 2023 is a down year, "it's likely that we'll do some meaningful buyback."
Unfortunately, the buybacks won't happen before the 1% tax on buybacks kicks in on January 1, 2023. Some speculate this is the real reason the buybacks were pushed to next year, to avoid the optics of trying to dodge a new tax.
Tesla is Becoming the Go-To for the Brightest Minds
A.I. Day 2022 was a big hit, not only for showing off Optimus and Full Self-Driving improvements but generating interest in the company. While A.I. Day is viewed by many as a way for the company to show off its latest achievements, it's a recruitment drive.
Tesla includes several staff members to discuss projects, while Musk encourages people with interest to apply. "We've seen a massive influx of world-class artificial intelligence engineers and scientists resumes. So, it generated a tremendous amount of interest from some of the best AI researchers in the world. I can't emphasize the importance of this enough because I think finally it has become clear to the smartest AI technologists in the world that Tesla is among the very best."
50 Percent Annual Growth
Tesla is going to need all the help it can get. The company is still committed to growing by 50 percent yearly in both deliveries and revenue. "We expect to sell every car that we make for as far into the future as we can see. So, the factories are running at full speed, and we're delivering every car we make and keeping operating margins strong," said Musk.
Despite the company's strong growth, he admits Tesla is still tiny in the big picture: "We are still a very small percentage of the total vehicles on the road. Of the 2 billion cars and trucks on the road, we only have about 3.5 million. So, we've got a long way to go to even reach 1% of the global fleet."
That said, there has been a monumental shift to electric vehicles in the past year, prompting Musk to say, "I think the public, at large, realizes that everyone's moving towards electric vehicles and that it's foolish to actually buy a new gasoline car at this point because the residual value of that gasoline car is going to be very low. So, I think we have to be in a very good spot."
That means there are two billion cars that could be retired in the coming years and replaced with electric vehicles. Therefore, the consumer pool will only get bigger and demand for EVs will continue to grow,
During its earnings call Tesla also discussed its upcoming Semi, which they expect to produce up to 50k units in 2024, the next Tesla model is already in the works, and the latest on its FSD Beta.