This or a similar sentiment could describe in a nutshell the content of the tweets and comments by Elon Musk, the charismatic CEO of Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA). Reality is a bit of a world apart. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Tesla lost around USD 675 million despite strong growth in revenue to USD 3.3 billion. The average share loss was either USD 4.01 based on GAAP, which I prefer, or USD 3.04 per share based on non-GAAP.
As the then market leader, Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) determined soon after taking up its fuel cell activities that there was no way it could compete in the transportation sector. The upfront investment that such a move required was just too great. A decision was made to outsource these activities to AFCC, a Daimler-Ford joint venture
In late March, Dieter Zetsche’s words on electric transportation and the future of fuel cells caused quite a stir in the automotive industry. During the auto motor und sport conference on March 27 in Stuttgart, the head of Daimler was asked about what type of electric transportation his company would favor over the coming years. Instead of the short reply one would expect, he went on to give a long answer to the question and it seemed to have given rise to wildly different interpretations.
The losses of the US-based company increased during the last quarter of 2015 to USD 320 million. Over the entire year, they added up to around USD 980 million. Whether you choose GAAP (the default rulebook) or the visually more enticing non-GAAP accounting standards (with the latter, the result per share seems to improve “cosmetically”) is not the main question. The larger issue is whether the trend points to a balanced result or even a profit. That was now the plan for 2016, as CEO Elon Musk announced.