SolarCity could be 'cash contributor' to Tesla, says Musk

Workers secure solar panels to a rooftop during a SolarCity Corp. residential installation.
Sergio Flores | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The acquisition of SolarCity is likely to have a "neutral" impact on Tesla's fourth quarter, said Elon Musk Wednesday.

Although the Tesla CEO — and SolarCity chairman — told analysts and reporters on a conference call that they should take the statement with a "grain of salt," he said SolarCity could be at least "neutral" and possibly "a cash contributor" to Tesla's financials.

Tesla's proposed acquisition of SolarCity has generated a fair amount of controversy and criticism from those who say the deal would not be a good use of Tesla's cash and would distract from Tesla's core automotive business. Others have called out the close relationships between the two companies and say they raise corporate governance concerns.

But Tesla's latest earnings, which turned a profit for the first time in two years, were a vindication of sorts for Musk, and set a positive tone heading into the company's shareholder vote on the deal on Nov. 17.

Tesla has been burning cash as it ramps up its California factory for its Model 3 car and continues development of its Gigafactory in Nevada. However, on Wednesday Musk lowered its expected capital expenditures for this year to $1.8 billion, from an estimated $2.25 billion last quarter.

Musk further told analysts that the upcoming unveiling of the Tesla "solar roof" with integrated battery and Tesla charger has "exceeded my expectations." Those products are expected to be unveiled Friday.

The solar roof, which is meant to entirely replace a house's roof with solar panels, will be targeted toward homebuilders or homeowners who need to replace their roofs. Therefore, Musk said, it will not cannibalize other SolarCity solar panel products.

Tesla also is planning to unveil more information about the financial aspects of the SolarCity deal on Nov. 1, which was worth $2.6 billion when it was announced.

Tesla shares rallied after the closing bell Wednesday.