By Claudia Assis
Tesla Inc. is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings after the bell on Monday, with Autopilot, its suite of advanced driver-assistance systems, under a cloud.
A recent fatal crash involving a Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -4.42% vehicle in Texas where authorities believe no one was at the wheel has drawn renewed scrutiny to Autopilot, which long has been criticized in some quarters for lulling some drivers into a false sense of security and implying self-driving abilities well beyond its current capabilities.
Tesla makes it clear that drivers engaging Autopilot have to be alert and prepared to take over at any time, and U.S. safety regulators are investigating several accidents involving Tesla vehicles in which Autopilot may have been involved.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted earlier this week that Autopilot didn’t appear to be enabled in the Texas crash.
Tesla plans to webcast a conference call with analysts after the quarterly results at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
Here’s what to expect:
Earnings: Consensus from 36 Wall Street analysts polled by FactSet calls for GAAP earnings of 75 cents a share, which would compare with 2 cents a share in the first quarter of 2020 and hand Tesla is seventh consecutive quarter of profit.
The analysts expect an adjusted profit of 74 cents a share, which would compare with an adjusted profit of 25 cents a share a year ago.
Estimize, a crowdsourcing platform that gathers estimates from Wall Street analysts, as well as buy-side analysts, fund managers, company executives, academics and others, is expecting an adjusted profit of 85 cents a share.
Revenue: The analysts surveyed by FactSet expect sales of $10.48 billion for Tesla, up from $5.99 billion a year ago. Estimize sees revenue of $10.73 billion for the company.
Stock movement: So far this year, Tesla shares have lagged the broader market, up around 3% to the S&P 500 index’s /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -2.14% gain of more than 10%. In the past 12 months, however, the stock has quintupled, compared with an advance around 52% for the S&P.
What else to expect: Tesla earlier this month reported first-quarter deliveries that blew past Wall Street estimates, despite worries of chip and parts shortages.
The deliveries are Tesla’s proxy for sales. In a comment accompanying the numbers, the company said that it was “encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity.”
Electric-car competition has been heating up in China, with tech companies as well as auto makers vying for EV market share in the country.
Tesla’s above-expectation quarterly sales were one reason analysts at Mizuho Securities raised their price target on the shares to $820.
Tesla got off to a good start of 2021, they said, with the January-March sales number likely pointing to a higher sales volume for the year.
Tesla has shied away from giving specific 2021 sales guidance, with Wall Street consensus running around 800,000 vehicles. Any comments on Monday on sales goals for the year or future quarters will be closely parsed out.
The first-quarter sales were “a barometer of things to come,” analyst Dan Ives with Wedbush said in a note Thursday. The “robust” numbers shows that the pent-up demand globally for Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y “is hitting its next stage of growth as part of a global green tidal wave underway,” he said.
Wall Street will be “laser focused” on gauging Tesla’s 2021 deliveries trajectory, he said.