Tesla Motors, Inc. Earnings: What Investors Should Know

By Markets Fool.com

Model 3. Investors will look for an update on the development and timeline of Tesla's important Model 3 when the company reports second-quarter results on Wednesday. Image source: The Motley Fool.

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On Wednesday, after market close, electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) is scheduled to report second-quarter results. The report comes at a critical time for the company -- about a year before it's aiming to bring its lower-cost Model 3 to market, and just as it's ramping up production of batteries at its Gigafactory.

Here are some key areas of Tesla's business that are worth checking on when the automaker reports second-quarter financial results.

Revenue and EPS

Tesla has already reported its vehicle deliveries for the quarter, so analysts likely have a fairly good estimate of the electric-car maker's revenue during Q2. After all, new-vehicle sales accounted for about 89% of Tesla's revenue in its most-recent quarter, making vehicle deliveries the primary driver for total revenue.

On average, analysts predict Tesla's second-quarter revenue, adjusted to include deferred revenue resulting in lease accounting used for indirect leases and cars sold with a resale-value guarantee, is $1.63 billion, up about 36% from the year-ago quarter. Of course, there are still ways Tesla's revenue could come in higher or lower than expectations, including unexpected trajectories in the company's average selling price for its vehicles, used vehicle sales, or Tesla Energy sales. Any unexpected impact from these segments is likely to be small, because they represented only about 11% of the company's business in Q2.

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Model X. Image source: The Motley Fool.

For Tesla's second-quarter non-GAAP EPS, it's more difficult for analysts to predict what the figure will be. It's difficult to predict how rapidly Tesla is moving down the cost curve for its late-2015 launched Model X, Tesla's pace of manufacturing efficiency improvements, and the impact of the company's smaller segments on profitability. Analysts are predicting the company will report a non-GAAP loss of $0.52, wider than its year-ago second-quarter loss of $0.48.

Model 3 update

Beyond Tesla's reported revenue and earnings, another key area to watch will be any updates on its Model 3 program.

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Model 3 to Tesla's business. With a starting price at about half of its Model S and X, the March-announced $35,000 fully electric vehicle opens the company up to a much-larger market, evident by the 373,000 deposit-backed reservations the company had garnered by the middle of May -- more than seven times Tesla's total vehicle deliveries last year.

But now Tesla needs to actually execute on its aggressive plan for bringing the vehicle to market by late next year and ramping up total vehicle production to 500,000 units per year by 2018, helped by Model 3. Investors, therefore, may want to look for an update from management on Model 3, specifically checking to see if Tesla is sticking with its planned timeline for the critical vehicle's launch and production ramp.

Vehicle delivery forecast

Another interesting area for investors to watch will be Tesla's guidance for third-quarter vehicle deliveries. With the report taking place more than a month into Q3, Tesla should have considerable visibility into what the quarter's deliveries will look like, so management's guidance figure for the quarter should be helpful. Investors should take the figure with a grain of salt; Tesla has underperformed its quarterly vehicle guidance for two quarters in a row.

So far, Tesla has delivered 29,190 vehicles during 2016. But Tesla expects significantly more deliveries in the second half."In total, Tesla expects to produce and deliver about 50,000 vehicles during the second half of 2016, approximately equal to all of 2015," the company said in its second-quarter press release for vehicle deliveries.

In order for Tesla to easily deliver 50,000 vehicles during the second half of the year, look for Tesla to provide guidance for 20,000 vehicles or more to be delivered during Q3.

Shortly after market close on Wednesday, August 3, investors will be able find a copy of Tesla's second-quarter shareholder letter on its Investor page on its website. Further, the company is hosting a live conference call with analysts to discuss the quarter's results on the same day at 2:30 p.m. PST.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.