Tesla has entered an era of "rising transparency" with the disclosure of its quarterly deliveries, according to Pacific Crest analyst Brad Erickson, and this is probably a good thing.
In a note to clients following Friday's disclosure of quarterly deliveries — in which Tesla announced that deliveries in the first quarter of 2015 — Erickson wrote:
Increasing transparency is usually a good sign. Sustainability of demand remains a key tenet of the bear thesis on TSLA. Disclosing end-of-quarter deliveries from now on shows management's confidence in the sustainability of demand, in our view. This announcement only reinforces our confidence in the company's ability to sustain demand, with production being the primary upside limitation to the outlook of 55,000 total deliveries in 2015.
Tesla said that it would release these results within three days of the quarter end going forward.
Erickson noted, however, that in Tesla's 8-K accompanying the deliveries announcement the company said, "this is only one measure of our financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of our quarterly financial results."
But in Erickson's view deliveries are the most important metric for the company, writing:
Mathematically, a higher portion of direct leases could drive a top-line miss, even as the company beat our delivery estimate of 9,500. We are forecasting 6.6% of total deliveries in Q1 being direct leases versus through a third-party, which is in line with the prior quarter and management commentary. If a higher portion of direct leases drove a top-line miss, we believe investor reaction to this would only be a modest negative.
Erickson, who has an outperform rating and a $293 price target on shares of Tesla, also expects the company will announce a some sort of stationary residential storage unit on April 30.
"Quantifying [the home battery] opportunity has proven difficult, and we do not expect it to represent any kind of a majority opportunity in the future relative to the business of selling cars. With that said, we expect no harm from a sentiment perspective leading up to the announcement."
Markets were closed on Friday, but in pre-market trade on Monday, shares of the electric carmaker were up almost 3%.
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