(New York) Tesla lost two-thirds of its stock market value in 2022, victim of fears over demand for electric vehicles, dismay at the tribulations of Elon Musk at the head of Twitter and the end of money easy on Wall Street.
The manufacturer nevertheless increased its deliveries by 45% over the first three quarters, despite supply problems, and generated nearly 9 billion dollars in profits over this period despite sharply rising expenses.
But this is below the long-term objective of increasing deliveries by 50% per year.
And observers are worried about a slowdown in sales.
For the past two years, demand has exceeded supply in the electric car market, but this trend should “reverse” in 2023, advance Adam Jonas, analyst for Morgan Stanley, in a note published Wednesday evening.
“Between a deteriorating macroeconomic environment, unaffordable prices for many and growing competition, there are obstacles to overcome,” he said.
Many traditional manufacturers now offer electric versions, whether Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia or Volkswagen. And in the category of luxury cars entered Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Polestar, Lucid and Rivian.
Tesla still largely dominates in the United States with 65% market share in the first nine months of the year, but it is less than the 79% of 2020 and this figure should fall to less than 20% in 2025, predict S&P Global analysts.
To boost sales in the fourth quarter, the group offered unusual promotions in the country.
The situation in China is also alarming: according to press reports, production is currently suspended at the Shanghai factory for a longer period than initially planned.
Several analysts point out, however, that Tesla maintains a clear lead, in terms of technology, cost management and scale, in a rapidly growing market.
The Baird firm thus estimates in a note released on Wednesday that the group is the “best positioned on the automotive market” and still recommends buying the action.
The shadow of Twitter, bought for 44 billion dollars by Elon Musk at the end of October, hovers however.
Tesla needs a “leader who can guide it through the storm” and not a boss “who is Twitter-focused,” Wedbush’s Dan Ives said in a note released Tuesday.
“Stock market madness”
On the one hand, the multi-billionaire sold several billion dollars of Tesla shares to finance the acquisition and then the operating costs of his new toy, selling another 3.6 billion in early December when he said in the spring n have no intention of selling more.
He also took the social network into turmoil, laying off half of the employees, authorizing the return of suspended Internet users like Donald Trump, or banishing journalists for unclear reasons.
“Musk has lost all credibility with the investment community,” says Dan Ives, referring to “broken promises” on stock sales, “the Twitter fiasco” and “political controversies” on the platform.
It has become ‘untenable’ to value Tesla without taking into account Elon Musk’s erratic handling of Twitter, Oppenheimer’s Colin Rusch said in a recent note, noting that some buyers are opting for a competing brand because of the fanciful stances displayed by the entrepreneur on the platform.
To the defense of the entrepreneur, the action of Tesla has also suffered from the general decline of the stock markets this year.
In a mid-December Twitter conversation, Elon Musk acknowledged that rising interest rates and the economic situation are likely to slow demand for Tesla.
But “I still continue to predict that in the long term, Tesla will be the company with the highest valuation in the world,” he said.
On Wednesday, in a message to employees of the company consulted by the CNBC channel, he called on them not to “worry too much about the madness of the stock market”.
The group’s share had jumped more than 700% in 2020 and then 50% in 2021.
It recovered nearly 13% in the last three days of the year, but was still down 65% over the whole of 2022, giving Tesla a market value of $389 billion.