Despite Challenges, Tesla Remains the World's Greatest Car Company

Last week, the sentiment about Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) and SpaceX and owner of Twitter, was that he is going through a particularly rough time. By almost all counts, Twitter loses money and continues to struggle to add revenue. SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded. Tesla posted earnings that were less than expected. However, among these issues, one thing is clear. If the auto industry’s future is electric vehicles (EVs), Musk and Tesla still own it. (These 15 cars hold their value the longest.)

Whether Tesla’s numbers met expectations, and whether there is anxiety that price cuts on its cars will undermine profits, the company’s growth is still extraordinary. So is the number of vehicles it sells. Revenue rose 24% from last year to $23.3 billion in the most recently reported quarter. Adjusted EBITDA fell 15% to $4.3 billion. That drove a margin of an extraordinary 18%.

Tesla produced 404,808 vehicles in the first quarter, up 44%. Days of supply were only 15. Tesla has cut prices several times in the past several weeks. If these cuts drive market share, Tesla could produce more than 500,000 vehicles in the current quarter. No other car company in the world (outside China) has EV sales that are even close.

In total, legacy car companies have spent tens of billions of dollars to enter the EV business. No other company is close to Tesla in sales, except for manufacturers in China. China’s BYD sold 907,000 EVs last year, but almost all those sales were domestic. BYD is unlikely to have significant sales outside of China, perhaps for years.

Critics of Tesla’s future often point to its market cap as too high. At $523 billion, it dwarfs GM’s $47 billion and even Toyota’s $184 billion. Its stock price is 54% higher this year, despite the earnings disappointment. The reason is simple. Outside of China, its EV lead is too large to overcome.

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