When Musk announced his plans to launch SpaceX's biggest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, faces around the world were skeptical. Indeed, during the few weeks leading up to Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings release, which took place more than a month into Q1, Model 3 reservations have continued to grow, Tesla said.
Tesla investors continue to display patience, as well. Shares are down more than 2% in trading Thursday morning.
Here are five key questions to ask as a way to gauge Tesla's prospects going into a decisive year.
"Tesla posted a modest beat to consensus and to our numbers - but driven by ~$1/share contribution from significantly greater ZEV credits than we or likely consensus expected ($179mn vs. 10mn in our model)".
While Tesla's true believers love these stunts, some analysts are questioning whether Musk should be spending more time fixing Tesla's woes.
"All the cash concerns will be alleviated once they get these cars on the road", said Tasha Keeney, an analyst at ARK Investment Management, which holds Tesla stock. Investors and enthusiasts alike know that the chief executive officer's timelines are often overly aggressive. "Tesla had to have been planned for awhile". Two leaders departed in roughly the past year, and staff has suffered from inevitable talent churn. Total production, including the higher-priced Model S and Model X, was 101,027 units in 2017. "The launch of Model 3 is what Tesla had been building towards from day one".
So, for now, "it's all hands on deck for Crew Dragon", Musk said. And what ever happened to Musk's plan to take on Uber Technologies Inc. with the "Tesla Network" of shared autonomous rides?
Jonas notes that it results in "Tesla entering 2018 with ample liquidity and its negative trade cycle should see a boost when the M3 ramps up". "As we ramp production of both Model 3 and our energy products while keeping tight control of operating expenses, our quarterly operating income should turn sustainably positive at some point in 2018".
On the other hand, Johnson noted that cash balance came in $900 million higher than he expected - driven mainly by customer deposits for Model 3, the next-generation Roadster, and Tesla Semi, which shows strong demand.
United States stocks plunge again
The 10-year Treasury yield briefly hit a four-year high of 2.88%, renewing concerns about inflation and higher interest rates. About 10.5 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, well above the 8.2 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
Where is the Tesla roadster now?
Not since 1977, when NASA launched the Voyager I probe with two "Golden Records" - phonographic albums containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth for any intelligent extraterrestrial life with a record player - has a cultural artifact sparked such interest.
Still, Tesla's factory needs are vast and growing. And the company's assembly plant in California reportedly struggled to accelerate production.
However, company did not appear to be disheartened by the new development.
India hasn't given up its hopes of wooing the automaker, either.
The company also does not break out country-specific data, but recently eliminated tax incentives for electric vehicles in Hong Kong and Denmark.
Wall Street remains mixed on the company's ability to deliver.
- Tesla expects to send one of its EVs on an autonomous coast-to-coast road trip in the USA in three to six months. (That will make the range from Model S, 3, X and Y). Tesla tends to set ambitious goals that it isn't always able to achieve.