Tesla shares drop after carmaker reportedly asks its suppliers for refunds to reach profitability

Key Points
  • Tesla is reportedly requesting its suppliers to give cash back from previous payments to help the carmaker become profitable.
  • The Wall Street Journal cites a Tesla memo asking a supplier to return a "meaningful amount of money of its payments since 2016.”
Tesla reportedly asked suppliers for refunds to help it become profitable
Tesla reportedly asked suppliers for refunds to help it become profitable

Tesla shares are falling on a report that the electric car maker has asked some suppliers to refund a portion of previous payments made by the company.

In its report Sunday, The Wall Street Journal cited a Tesla memo asking a supplier last week to return a "meaningful amount of money of its payments since 2016.”

The memo said all suppliers were being asked to help Tesla become profitable, the newspaper said, but added that it was unclear how many were asked for retroactive discounts.

Tesla shares are down 3 percent Monday.

The Journal said other suppliers the media outlet contacted said they were not aware of the request.

Tesla asks suppliers for cash back: WSJ
Tesla asks suppliers for cash back: WSJ

Tesla is slated to report its June quarter earnings results on Aug. 1.

In May, Tesla said it expects positive GAAP net income in its third and fourth quarters.

The latest report calls into question the state of Telsa’s financial position. The company lost nearly $2 billion last year and burned about $3.4 billion in cash after capital investments. It had $2.7 billion in cash at the end of the March quarter.

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Responding to a tweet referencing The Journal article, Tesla CEO Elon Musk clarified on social media, "Only costs that actually apply to Q3 & beyond will be counted. It would not be correct to apply historical cost savings to current quarter."

When asked for comment a Tesla spokesperson sent the following statement:

"Negotiation is a standard part of the procurement process, and now that we’re in a stronger position with Model 3 production ramping, it is a good time to improve our competitive advantage in this area. We’re focused on reaching a more sustainable long term cost basis, not just finding one-time reductions for this quarter, and that’s good for Tesla, our shareholders, and our suppliers who will also benefit from our increasing production volume and future growth opportunities. 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. The remainder of our discussions with suppliers are entirely focused on future parts price and design or process changes that will help us lower fundamental costs rather than prior period adjustments of capex projects. This is the right thing to do."

See the full Wall Street Journal report here.

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