Tesla's margins remind us that it's an automaker, not a tech company


Tesla’s stock is worth more than that of Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and Stellantis combined. Even though Tesla is an automaker, it’s valued as more of a tech company, with a share price that puts it in the camp of companies like Apple, Nvidia and Microsoft.

But that share price took a hit this week after the company reported declining auto gross margins in the second quarter. Tesla’s stock closed $291.26 Wednesday after reporting earnings but has since fallen to $261.56 at the time of this writing.

Tesla’s once-robust margins have been in steady decline since Q2 2022, but fell under 20% for the first time in years during the first half of 2023. Tesla reported margins of 18.2% in the second quarter, a result of the automaker’s many price cuts across all models and markets.

CEO Elon Musk has attributed the discounts to lower demand in an uncertain economic environment, but analysts also see headwinds in supply chain issues and increasing competition.

With the stock price continuing to tumble, bears say Tesla’s share price is starting to reflect the reality of the company: Tesla talks a big game, but in the end, it’s just an automaker with automaker problems.

“They’re a metal bender like everybody else,” Kevin Tynan, senior automotive analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, told TechCrunch+. “The bulls want you to believe that Tesla is somehow a different kind of company and it deserves a different valuation more like what you would afford to a tech company. But the reality is, it has automaker margins now. It has automaker problems and automaker cyclicality in its core business.”



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