Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) stock price opened 13% lower on Thursday after the company reported its 2nd quarter results. Despite increasing deliveries, the company missed earnings estimates – by a wide margin – and failed to increase its gross margin as it had hoped to do.
Tesla reported a loss per share of $1.12, far worse than the $0.40 analysts expected. It’s worth noting that analyst estimates were spread across a wide range though. Revenue was up 60% for the year to $6.3 billion and slightly lower than expected.
The biggest concern was the gross margin falling to 19% from 21% a year ago. Tesla had earlier said it expected the margin to increase to 25% in the quarter. However, the lower margin isn’t that surprising with the product mix shifting towards the lower margin Model 3.
Tesla is one of the most contentious stocks around with large groups of supporters and critics. Most analysts, both bullish and bearish, are now spinning the results to support their previously held views. However, these results have given the bears more material to work with.
Bulls Versus Bears
The bulls point to the improved cash flow during the quarter and the fact that the company is still investing heavily in productive capacity for the future. They are also optimistic about Elon Musk’s expectations for the company turning profitable and cash flow positive during the current quarter. Musk also reiterated that he expects the company to deliver between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles for the year.
The bears point to the fact that Tesla hasn’t managed to turn a profit despite achieving record production levels. These results have reinforced their view that Tesla will not be able to make a profit regardless of the number of cars it sells.
They also pointed to the improvement in cash flow being due to reduced inventory and Capex, which will not continue in the future. The bears like to remind us that Musk has repeatedly stated that the company is about to become profitable and then disappointed investors.
Tesla Is a Trading Stock
While the bulls and bears argue over the future of the company, many miss the fact that Tesla is one of the best trading stocks around – for those prepared to be flexible. There are actually a lot of unknowns regarding Tesla’s future and writing the company off may be premature. On the other hand, there is no doubt that Tesla has serious challenges ahead.
With opinion so divided and a large number of short positions, Tesla stock price promises to remain volatile, and will continue to be driven by sentiment. This will continue to create opportunities for those who keep an open mind.
Thursday’s sell-off happens to coincide with a key technical level. After rallying hard since early June, no doubt supported by short-covering, the stock was in the process of regaining the $260 level which had previously been seen as support. This selloff now confirms $260 as the major resistance level. Until it can regain that level, or find support lower down, the bias will be bearish.