Elon Musk unveiled his boldest, most outlandish prediction yet for Tesla—only this time markets are not buying it.
Shares are set to open sharply lower after a rare set of in-line results as investors, wary of a likely Musk stock sale to pay for his $44 billion Twitter deal, anticipated a bullish outlook going into the call.
And whether by design or coincidence, the visionary CEO delivered his most confident summary of the business to date.
Every single part of Tesla was firing on all cylinders, with only one minor chink spotted in its armor.
Musk, currently at work on the third part of his Master Plan geared at scaling up the business, predicted on Wednesday his $700 billion company will climb the rankings to become the world’s most valuable company.
But he didn’t stop at merely tripling its market cap to rise from 6th place to 1st, not by a long shot.
“I see a potential path for Tesla to be worth more than Apple and Saudi Aramco combined,” he said on the call, referring to the Dharan-based state oil giant. “This is the first time I’ve seen that potential.”
He wasn’t through if you thought the promise of a roughly $4.5 trillion company should be enough to turn bearish sentiment around. Later in the call, Musk added the rebranded robotics and AI company hadn’t even included this year’s most important all-new product.
“By the way I should mention when I said that I see a path,” he said, “I wasn’t including Optimus.”
What added earnings his bipedal robot under development might contribute is anyone’s guess. But Musk predicted his Optimus droid would usher in a new era, the “age of abundance” where the only goods and services not available essentially for free are those we consciously choose to make scarce.
No end to growth in sight
But even his most dedicated investors cannot always wait until then. So he pulled out all the stops, telling investors the company’s outlook had never been brighter for its shareholders.
STOCK BUYBACK: Musk said the Tesla board of directors has been discussing the merits of recent demands for a buyback and believes the company could easily shoulder one irrespective of the business environment.
“It is certainly possible for us to do a buyback on the order of five to ten billion dollars even in a downside scenario for next year. Even if next year is a very difficult year,” Musk said. “It’s likely that we will do some meaningful buyback.”
WHAT RECESSION: A downturn is not playing any role in Tesla’s planning, all sights are set on aggressive growth.
“I cannot emphasize we have excellent demand for Q4, and we expect to sell every car that we make for as far into the future as we can see,” the Tesla CEO said.
In fact, the company should continue growing customer vehicle deliveries at its current blistering pace of 50% or more on average every year. That’s provided of course that Musk can find enough vessels, trains and trucks to ship them—the reason why Q3 unit sales disappointed was there “just aren’t enough transportation objects”. Tesla got too big, in his words.
SEMI RAMP-UP: Musk said he would personally be on hand to deliver the first Semi commercial trucks to Pepsico in December 1st at long last and after a gradual year-long ramp, he is tentatively aiming to manufacture 50,000 units come 2024—alone for North America.
NEXT GEN CELLS: Last quarter Musk admitted difficulties getting his 4680 cells to meet his expectations. Now volumes tripled quarter-over-quarter and the focus is now shifting towards optimizing cost. “In a nutshell 4680 ramp is growing exponentially,” he said.
TERAFACTORY – Musk said the company is putting the “pedal to the metal” to achieve as fast as possible 1,000 gigawatt hours of in-house 4680 production per year in the U.S. alone, and this includes all main battery cell processing steps down to anode and cathode production, and even lithium refining.
Many companies that focus solely on manufacturing battery cell aren’t even that vertically integrated and rely on suppliers. When exactly this target should be reaches is unclear, but his massive new GigaTexas factory is designed currently to produce 100 GWh of cells. This 10x increase to 1 full terawatt hour importantly does not include added volumes from external suppliers.
CYBERTRUCK: The company is in the final lap of preparations with tooling beginning in GigaTexas. “We’re still on track to enter early production middle of next year.” said Lars Moravy, head of engineering, during the call. With hopes riding high on Tesla’s first pick-up truck, Musk notably avoided answering a question on its likely price tag.
NEXT-GENERATION VEHICLE: With development work on the Semi and Cybertruck now complete, attention is shifting to a lower-priced entry model, purported in the media to be the first low-cost robotaxi that entirely lacks a steering wheel or pedals.
Musk said the goal was to halve the cost versus the larger Model 3/Y platform and he anticipates production will swiftly exceed all of Tesla’s other cars combined.
In summary then, Musk said the company is heading towards a $4.5 trillion market cap even without factoring in a robot he expects will revolutionize his business thanks to an unprecedented future. He may have just unveiled the core thinking of his Master Plan, well timed to help him finance his Twitter purchase.
This comes coincidentally at a time when he can begin selling once the window is open, which experts deem to be up to two days following the release of Tesla’s upcoming 10-Q filing with the SEC.
In fact there was only one minor concern mentioned by Musk. His engineers may not succeed in delivering a supercomputer nicknamed Dojo that is better at training AI neural nets than his current GPU clusters purchased from chipmaker Nvidia.
“The jury is still out on Dojo,” he said, adding this wouldn’t affect this quarter’s wide release of Full Self-Driving to every customer still waiting to join the two-year-long beta test.
It just goes to show, not even Elon Musk is perfect.
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