Tesla's stock fell 3.3 percent Monday after it was reported that the electric car company asked suppliers for a refund of a portion of its payment.
While automotive companies asking investors for cash back to support operations is a standard part of the negotiating process, Tesla has repeatedly said it doesn't need the cash. However, the Sunday memo, in which the company asked investors to return a "meaningful amount of money of its payments since 2016," suggests otherwise and leaves market watchers wondering if Tesla is being truthful about its cash position.
The company lost about $2 billion last year and burned about $3.4 billion in cash after capital investments. At the end of March, Tesla had about $2.7 billion in cash.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to the report in a tweet on Monday, saying, "Only costs that actually apply to Q3 & beyond will be counted. It would not be correct to apply historical cost savings to current quarter."
The company later released a longer statement explaining the move. "We asked fewer than 10 suppliers for a reduction in total capex project spend for long-term projects that began in 2016 but are still not complete, and any changes with these suppliers would improve our future cash flows, but not impact our ability to achieve profitability in Q3,” it said.
But Jamie Albertine, an automotive analyst who tracks Tesla, said, "They cannot achieve profitability in the third quarter with one-time windfalls."
"If that’s what this ends up qualifying as, the market will absolutely sell off on that news. It will view its profitability as unsustainable. That’s the key risk," he said Monday on "Closing Bell."
Still, his firm, Consumer Edge Research, gave the stock an overweight rating.
"We're optimistic," he said.