Technology

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sounds pessimistic note about economy on earnings call

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Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, speaks with CNBC on May 16, 2023.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Tesla is set to report third-quarter results after the bell on Wednesday.

Here’s what Wall Street is expecting, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv:

  • Earnings: 73 cents per share expected
  • Revenue: $24.1 billion expected

During the same period last year, Tesla reported $1.05 in adjusted EPS on revenues of $21.45 billion.

The Q3 2023 earnings call will be Tesla’s first since its previous CFO, Zachary Kirkhorn, announced he was stepping aside. Chief accounting officer Vaibhav Taneja now holds both roles concurrently at Elon Musk’s electric car company.

Earlier this month, Tesla reported a 7% decline in vehicle deliveries for the third quarter compared to the previous three-month period. Tesla reiterated at the time that it was still aiming for 1.8 million vehicle deliveries for the full year in 2023.

Tesla uses an online platform called Say Technologies to pick out questions from shareholders to answer in advance of earnings calls.

Retail investors submitted questions about when Tesla expects to begin deliveries of its Cybertruck, a science fiction-inspired truck, and when it plans to make an updated version of its entry-level Model 3 sedans, dubbed the Highland Model 3, available for customers in the U.S. They also wanted updates on the company’s international factories, its 4680 battery cells and its TeslaBot humanoid robot project.

During the third quarter, Tesla began selling an updated version of its Model 3 sedan, the Highland, which included controversial changes, such as a “stalkless” turn signal. Drivers of the Model 3 Highland, now sold in China and the EU, can touch a button on the steering wheel to indicate they’re about to change lanes or turn, instead of using a stalk to the left of the steering wheel.

During the period ending in September 2023, Tesla also cut prices on some of its EV models in and beyond the U.S., and reduced the price for its premium driver assistance software, marketed as the Full Self-Driving (or FSD) option, or FSD Beta. Tesla does not make a driverless car, and tells its customers to remain at attention and ready to steer or brake at all times.

However, on Oct. 14, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who also owns and runs the social media platform X, previously called Twitter, posted: “Car just drove me around Austin all day with no interventions required, despite ACL festival crowds! In the fairly near future, people will wonder why there was ever skepticism about self-driving.”

Investors who submitted questions on the Say Technologies site wanted an update on Tesla’s latest FSD software improvements. One asked, “Why was the price dropped on FSD if it is getting better and robotaxi is expected so soon?”

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