be warned

Texas-based EV giant foresees profit crunch amid price drops, slowing growth

Tesla warned that sales growth this year may be “notably lower” than the 2023 growth rate, as it works to launch a more affordable next-generation vehicle at a factory near Austin. Photo courtesy of Tesla

Shares of Tesla tumbled at the opening bell Thursday as the electric vehicle, solar panel and battery maker warned investors of slower sales growth this year after posting fourth-quarter results that were weaker than most had expected.

In a letter to shareholders released Wednesday, Tesla warned that sales growth this year may be “notably lower” than the 2023 growth rate, as it works to launch a more affordable next-generation vehicle at a factory near Austin.

Tesla, the letter said, is between two big growth waves, one from global expansion of the Models 3 and Y, and a second coming from the new vehicle.

The company, which is headed by billionaire Elon Musk, reported a fourth-quarter adjusted profit of 71 cents per share on revenue of $25.17 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted a profit of 73 cents per share. Revenue was expected to be $25.64 billion.

Profits were off because Tesla lowered prices worldwide through the year in an effort to boost its sales and market share.

Shares slid more than 9 percent in Thursday morning trading.

Wedbush's Dan Ives said in a client note that Tesla's conference call on Wednesday to go over its financial results left many frustrated.

“Consistent with last quarter’s call, investors wanted to get their arms around the falling margins and constant, never ending price cuts seen globally, but instead, we heard from a much more cautious Musk who focused on production, next-gen vehicle timelines, and FSD/AI investments where much of the larger Tesla story was talked about instead of concrete guidance,” Ives wrote.

Still, the analyst remains optimistic on Tesla, believing that electric vehicle adoption to a broader mass market is near. However, Ives concedes there are still challenges to contend with.

“This is a pivotal period for Musk to get Tesla through that will help shape (or haunt) its EV future," he said.

Jeffrey Osborne of TD Cowen said that in the short term, it will be hard for EV competitors to catch up to Tesla as the company focuses on electrical efficiency and investing in battery technology. However, the analyst said there is “a great deal” of production-related risk in coming quarters that could possibly pressure margins and the stock as Tesla ramps up new plants in Germany and Texas and new vehicles.

A year ago, Tesla announced its plans to expand its Texas facility.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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