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Elon Musk Is Coming Back—to Tesla’s Earnings Call

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Tesla

CEO Elon Musk tweeted out Monday afternoon that he would be on his company’s coming fourth-quarter conference call, which will happen around late January.

That’s probably bullish for Tesla stock (ticker: TSLA) in the short run. It might mean things are going well. It could be bullish in the long run too, depending on what he says.

Musk wasn’t on the third-quarter earnings call after telling investors he wouldn’t be doing all future calls back in July. It now looks like he took simply took a one-quarter break.

Musk announced his intention while responding to a tweet on Twitter. “This year has been such a supply chain nightmare [and] it’s not over,” wrote Musk. “I will provide an updated product roadmap on next earnings call.”

The “supply-chain nightmare” doesn’t sound great. But auto makers have suffered supply-chain woes—including higher costs and semiconductor shortages—all year long. That isn’t new. The product roadmap has the potential to make big news.

At a minimum, Musk will probably update investors about the timing for the company’s pickup truck dubbed, of course, Cybertruck.

Bigger news would be an update about a new model—a EV that starts around $25,000. Musk has talked about a lower-price car in the past. “This has always been our dream from the beginning of the company,” he said in September 2020 at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. “I think probably …about 3 years from now, we’re confident we can make a very compelling $25,000 electric vehicle.” That would put a new model on sale in 2023. That would also mean the model would be revealed sometime in early 2022.

Tesla revealed the Cybertruck in late 2019. It’s due to start production in the coming weeks. That’s a two-year gap, but the pandemic has roiled the entire global economy. Tesla unveiled its Model 3 in spring 2016. Cars were being sold about 14 months later.

EVs from other makers are getting less expensive to purchase too.


XPeng

(XPEV) launched a $25,000 sedan in October. Low-price EVs open up more of the overall auto market to EV makers.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment about the tweet or product update.

There’s another reason Musk’s appearance is good news: He probably wouldn’t show up if numbers were looking weak. That’s speculation, but Tesla bear Gordon Johnson, from GLJ Research, wrote Tuesday that he expects a big number for fourth-quarter deliveries. He projects about 280,000 deliveries, roughly 20,000 higher than consensus estimates.

If Tesla deliveries 280,000 vehicles, it would push full-year deliveries north of 900,000 and up about 80% compared with 2020.

Still, Johnson rates Tesla shares Sell. He believes Tesla’s profit margins will fall as the company opens two new manufacturing plants in Germany and Austin. He’s also worried that Tesla will lose market share as EV models from other auto makers hit the market. Johnson’s price target for shares is a Street-low $67.

The tweet came out late Monday, but the stock didn’t appear to react in the final moments of trading—shares were already up about 5% for the day.

Tesla shares are up 2%, at $1,159.94, in recent trading.

S&P 500
and

Dow Jones Industrial Average
futures are down 0.5% and 0.8%, respectively, on renewed fears about the Omicron variant of Covid.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com

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