One day after Tesla reported its earnings and founder Elon Musk got into a testy exchange with analysts, a credit ratings agency continued to insist that the company would need a major cash infusion this year.
In a note released today, Bruce Clark, lead auto analyst and senior vice president at Moody’s Investors Service, noted that Tesla had made some progress by keeping its Model 3 production above 2,000 units for three straight weeks. In response to a previous analysis by Moody’s that indicated Tesla would need to raise at least $2 billion this year, Musk insisted the company will increase production enough to be profitable in the second half of this year.
When the subject came up again yesterday during an earnings calls with analysts, Musk cut off the question by responding: “Excuse me. Next. Boring bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”
So don’t expect Musk to be thrilled to learn that Moody’s hasn’t changed its opinion, despite his claims that increased production of the Model 3 will help the company avoid the need for more cash.
“The company remains in an intense ‘learn-as-they-go’ process while attempting to reach production efficiencies necessary for a Model 3 production rate of 5,000 per week, a Model 3 gross margin of 25 percent and breakeven cash flow,” Clark said. “We continue to expect that Tesla will need to raise new capital approximating $2 billion — in the form of equity, convertible notes, or debt — in order cover a cash burn during 2018, and to refund a total of $1.3 billion of convertible debt that matures in late 2018 and early 2019.”
Investors were none too happy either. In early trading on Thursday, Tesla’s stock was down $19.82, or 6.58 percent, to $281.33. It remains well off its most recent closing high of $383.45 last June.
Tesla’s earnings overall were better than expected. The company reported $3.4 billion in revenue for the quarter, up from $2.7 billion a year ago. However, that included a $784.6 million loss, likely contributing to investors’ fears that the company is burning through cash too quickly.