Tesla Q4 Deliveries Beat Consensus By A Mile, Pushing Annual Sales To Nearly 1M

Tesla, Inc. TSLA reported record quarterly and annual deliveries that exceeded the most optimistic Wall Street forecasts. The strong performance came against the backdrop of supply-side constraints that derailed production plans of many automakers, and intensified competition in the EV space.

What Happened: Tesla's fourth-quarter deliveries came in at 308,600 units, the company said in a statement on Sunday. This represented a roughly 28% quarter-over-quarter increase from the 241,300 cars delivered in the third quarter. On a year-over-year basis, the change was about 71%.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak said in a recent note that he expected deliveries of 285,000 units, basing his prediction on a combination of his industry checks, regionally reported data and App download data.

The Bloomberg consensus estimate was around 264,000 and the whisper number was between 290,000 and 300,000, GLJ Research's Gordon Johnson said in a note.

The total tally for the fourth quarter comprised of 296,850 Model 3/Y vehicles and 11,750 Model S/X vehicles. Both metrics increased from the third-quarter numbers of 232,025 units and 9,275 units, respectively.

Tesla does not break down deliveries geographically, but China Passenger Car Association, an industry body, releases Tesla's monthly sales tally in China, one of the EV maker's key markets.

RBC's Spak had estimated sales of 107,500 units in the U.S., about 100,000 in China and 59,000 in Europe. Model-wise, the analyst had anticipated 273,000 Model 3/Y sales and 12,500 Model S/X sales.

Tesla said fourth-quarter production came in at 305,840 units, with 292,731 of them being Model 3/Y vehicles and 13,109 Model S/X vehicles.

Related Link: EV Year In Review: 5 Winners And 5 Losers From The EV Space In 2021

Annual Deliveries Nearly Double: For the year, the company stood at 936,172 delivered units and 930,422 produced units. Annual deliveries exceeded RBC's estimate of 913,000 units and increased 87.4% from the year-ago deliveries of 499,550 units.

Tesla cautioned that its delivery count should be viewed as slightly conservative, as it counts a car as delivered only if it is transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct. Final numbers could vary by up to 0.5% or more, it added.

What Lies Ahead: GLJ's Johnson expects a big beat from Tesla when it reports its fourth-quarter results.

RBC's Spak said the focus will be on financial items such as gross margins and cash flow, and future developments such as capacity build-outs, battery tech, and progress on the company's in-house 4680 cells, FSD etc.

With Elon Musk signaling that he will take part in the fourth-quarter earnings call after missing the meeting in the previous quarter, the analyst expects an update on the product roadmap. The company is likely to maintain its high-level mid-term guidance of about 50% growth, he added.

"In our view, 2022 forecasts for TSLA are more about pace of capacity expansion (Germany, Texas) and supply than demand," the analyst wrote in the note.

Tesla's shares ended 2021 with a gain of about 50%. Loup Fund's Gene Munster believes Tesla stock could be worth $2,500 in about five years.

In the near term, Munster expects Tesla deliveries to exceed the consensus expectations of 1.2 million unit for 2022.

Tesla shares closed Friday's session down 1.27% at $1,056.78, although they tacked on 0.55% in after-hours trading.

Related Link: China to Cut EV Subsidies By 30% In 2022: What That Means For Tesla, Nio, XPeng And Others

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