Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock jumped more than 6 percent Monday on its first day of trading after a surprise Good Friday release of its first-quarter vehicle sales figures. The company reported a 55 percent increase in deliveries for the three-month period ending in March.
The release came weeks ahead of the company's financial statement for the January-March quarter. The move is an attempt to prevent investors from wildly speculating about its sales. Unlike the rest of the industry, Tesla doesn't report monthly sales, and the change isn't likely to curb speculation because it still means sales will be reported four times a year instead of the standard 12.
“Going forward, Tesla will publish the number of new car deliveries within three days of quarter end,” the company said in a filing with regulators on Friday. “We have decided to take this approach because inaccurate sources of information are sometimes used by others to project the number of vehicle deliveries.”
Tesla’s sales growth is vital to the company’s plan to sell 500,000 cars a year by 2020, up from 31,655 last year. Instead of waiting for the company’s first-quarter earnings report, due out in early May (the specific date hasn’t been announced yet), it unveiled its sales numbers on Friday. The release showed deliveries of 10,030 cars in the first three months of this year, compared with 6,457 in the same period a year ago.
CEO Elon Musk said in a November conference that his company doesn’t report monthly sales numbers like other automakers:
“Part of the reason why we don't release the monthly deliveries number is just because it varies quite a lot by region and then the media tends to read all sorts of nonsense into deliveries. We'll have like 1,000 cars reach a country one month and none the next month and then people -- or like 100 the next month trickle in or something because those were the numbers that were registered in one month versus the next and people say Tesla sales dropped by a factor of 10.”
For example, sales of Model S cars in electric-car-friendly Norway (Tesla’s largest market outside of the U.S.) varied greatly from one month to the next last year. In March 2014 Telsa delivered more than 1,300 cars to Norwegian customers, but that number dropped to a little over 400 the following month as Tesla focused on sending cars to China and elsewhere.
Separating sales data from earnings reports shows the company recognizes the importance of breaking out sales numbers rather than simply citing them in a quarterly letter to shareholders. And it’s a little closer to the way other automakers report their sales – with separate regulatory filings pertaining specifically to sales numbers.
Critics of Tesla’s sales reporting are unlikely to be satisfied. In addition to looking for more frequent sales reporting, they also would like to see where the cars are being sold.
“Tesla Motors is valued like a large car company, but it doesn’t seem to value its investors enough to provide them with decent data,” said Bertel Schmitt, an outspoken Tesla critic who runs the Japan-based Daily Kanban automotive blog, in a post last Thursday. “Most large automakers provide monthly data, broken out by region. Tesla does not. All Tesla provides is one global number once every quarter.”
Tesla's stock rose 6.34 percent during the regular trading session Monday to close at $203.10.