A faint glimmer of hope for Tesla's tumbling stock emerged around noon when Jalopnik reported that Tesla is reported to be making 2,000 Model 3s per week, perhaps enough to ease stock market nerves around the electric carmaker after a week dominated by a barrage of negative newsflow following of a deadly crash involving its semi-autonomous autopilot, a debt downgrade, NTSB outrage, and all culminating with Musk April Fool's joking about a Tesla bankruptcy.
Musk is said to have told employees in a company-wide email on Monday that Tesla had just passed the 2,000 per week rate, according to Jalopnik.
While that is still short of the company's downward revised 2,500 per week target (from 5,000 originally) it is a notable increase from the 793 Model 3s that the company built in the final week of last year, and similar downbeat estimates from most Wall Street analysts. It produced 2,425 of the cars in the whole fourth quarter.
Tesla shares recovered from an 8% drop before the Jalopnik report filtered into markets to trade down 3.5% on the day, although it has since resumed sinking once more and was down 5.5% most recently
According to Jalopnik, in the email, "sent at the perfectly normal email time of 3:01 a.m. PDT on a Monday", Musk said it has been “extremely difficult” to pass the 2,000 vehicle per week rate for the Model 3, “but we are finally here" and quoted the CEO as saying: "If things go as planned today, we will comfortably exceed that number over a seven day period!" The message suggests the company rapidly exceeded production of the Model 3 over the past week.
“It took five years to reach the 2000/week production rate for S and X combined, but only nine months to achieve that output with Model 3,” he wrote.
“This is already double the pace of 2017!” he wrote. “By the end of the year, I believe we will be producing vehicle sat least four times faster than last year.”
Bloomberg, which has been tracking production totals for the all-electric sedan, said over the weekend that Tesla had been hitting around 1,200 per week.
Goldman's estimates of production were not much better.
There is of course Tesla's own guidance, which in the company's Q3 2017 investor letter was the following:
Based on what we know now, we currently expect to achieve a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by late Q1 2018, recognizing that our production growth rate is like a stepped exponential, so there can be large forward jumps from one week to the next. We will provide an update when we announce Q4 production and delivery numbers in the first few days of January.
In other words, it all comes down today's production update: as some perfectly summarized, Tesla - a $45B market cap company - is throwing a Hail Mary today, and IF it works the company will only miss the production target set in Dec of 2017 by 20%, and in Sept 2017 by 60%.
The far bigger problem is if the stock does not rebound on the "fake" beat, and instead continues sliding. That would be the the signal for TSLA longs that it's time to get out of Dodge.