Blogs -Tesla Q2 Earnings – It’s About Margins

Tesla Q2 Earnings – It’s About Margins

July 25, 2023


Beth Kindig

Lead Tech Analyst

This article was originally published on Forbes on Jul 21, 2023,08:15am EDT

After the strong rally, it appears the market is taking profits on commentary around the outlook for margins. It’s not only that they were lower quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), but also Tesla provided zero insight as to how much lower margins can go. The market does not like uncertainty. It’s somewhat ironic that during the call Musk can wax poetic about the complexities of AI, neural net training, the 6-million dollar man, and robotic taxis yet when it comes to basic profitability drivers, he can’t say anything. The former drove the price post Q123 and the latter is driving the price today.

Did reported automotive gross margins bottom?

Likely not.

Telsa had a reported Q223 automotive gross margin of 19.2% vs Q123 of 21.10% vs Q422 of 25.90%. Meanwhile, Q223 group operating margins were of 9.6% vs Q123 of 11% vs Q422 of 16%.

Reported automotive gross margins and operating margins peaked in Q222 at 32.9% and 19.3% respectively. Since then, both have been steadily declining downward. The stock is weaker today because the market does not know where or when these two metrics will ultimately bottom.

Looking ahead, Tesla will continue to focus on volumes through lower prices and at the expense of margins. Here’s what Zachary Kirkhorn, CFO said:

“Second, we continue to work towards our goals of maximizing volumes on both, our vehicle and energy business, but most importantly, doing so in a way that generates the capital to continue our pace of R&D and capital investments. This requires a strong focus on per unit COGS reductions in each of our key businesses, as well as working capital improvements on raw materials, work in process inventory and customer AR, all of which progressed appropriately in Q2.

If we look specifically at our automotive business, our gross margin showed a modest reduction and remained healthy, despite action taken to further improve vehicle affordability early in the quarter. We recognized – we realized per unit cost improvements in nearly every category, including material cost and commodities, manufacturing costs and logistics”

Sign up for I/O Fund's free newsletter with gains of up to 221% - Click here

In response to a question on pricing, Tesla continues the point that the company is having to lower prices due to the higher interest rate environment


“How has the order intake trended relatively to production levels during Q2? And how has it trended in the quarter-to-date period? Conceptually, how does Tesla decide when is it appropriate to reduce prices or at other sales incentives to increase demand?”

Elon Musk

“[…] Buying a new car is a big decision for vast majority of people. So, any time there’s economic uncertainty, people generally pause on new car buying at least to see what happens. And then obviously, another challenge is the interest rate environment. As interest rates rise, the affordability of anything bought with debt decreases, so effectively increasing the price of the car.

So when interest rates rise dramatically, we actually have to reduce the price of the car because the interest payments increase the price of the car. And this is — at least up until recently, it was, I believe, the sharpest interest rate rise in history. So, we had to do something about that […]

When asked again about automotive margins, management did not provide a direct answer. For our purposes, we prefer management teams to answer directly as it increases uncertainty to not provide visibility into contracting margins.


“With the emphasis of price cuts to drive volume growth eating into automotive gross margin, can investors expect to see automotive gross margin stabilize or even rise due to efficiencies outpacing the cuts? And if so, when?”

Elon Musk:

“Where’s that crystal ball, again? If I may, look, the short-term variances in gross margin and profitability really are minor relative to the long-term picture. Autonomy will make all of these numbers look silly.

Zachary Kirkhorn

“I fully agree with you. I mean, I think the only thing in the short term that matters is what I said in my opening remarks, which is are we generating enough money to continue to invest. And the portfolio of products and technologies that the technical teams are investing in right now, this is intense. It’s intense in terms of investment; it’s intense in terms of potential.”

Every Thursday at 4:30 pm Eastern, the I/O Fund team holds a webinar for premium members to discuss how to navigate the broad market, as well as various stock entries and exits. We offer trade alerts plus an automated hedging signal. The I/O Fund team is one of the only audited portfolios available to individual investors. Learn more here.


The sentiment post Q223 isn’t much different than in Q123. As we all know, Tesla rallied after Q1. This time around, given the stock is at higher levels, there may be less AI sentiment to support it in the short term. Q3 won’t be a catalyst and analysts will likely reduce numbers.

While many will argue that Tesla is one of the most advanced AI companies in the world, my response is “sure” but Tesla is also heavily exposed to consumer spending — and this is entirely out of their control. The comment on interest rates is the most important comment from the call as high interest rates mean Tesla must lower prices. In a way, management is agreeing that quite a bit about the current situation is out of management’s control. While some will talk about recurring software revenue from robotaxis as the most important catalyst, the harsh reality is that the FED lowering rates is the most important catalyst for Tesla today. That may not be as exciting as AI, but Tesla is one of many tech stocks whose revenue growth and profitability is on borrowed time until the Fed instills a more dovish policy.

The I/O Fund Analyst Team contributed to this analysis.

Recommended Readings:

Gains of up to 403% from our Free Newsletter.

Here are sample stock gains from the I/O Fund’s newsletter --- produced weekly and all for free!

+344% on Nvidia

+403% on Bitcoin

+218% on Roku

*as of March 15, 2022

Our newsletter provides an edge in the world’s most valuable industry – technology. Due to the enormous gains from this particular industry, we think it’s essential that every stock investor have a credible source who specializes in tech. Subscribe for Free Weekly Analysis on the Best Tech Stocks.

If you are a more serious investor, we have a premium service that offers lower entries and real-time trade alerts. Sample returns on the premium site include 324% on Zoom, 601% on Nvidia, 445% on Bitcoin, and 4-digits on an alt-coin. The I/O Fund is audited annually to prove it’s one of the best performing Funds on the market with returns that beat Wall Street funds. 


More To Explore


Nvidia Was Up 235% In 2023, Don't Expect It To Continue

Nvidia Was Up 235% In 2023, Don’t Expect It To Continue

We’ve had unwavering conviction in Nvidia’s AI story since November of 2018. In fact, it was our leading position going into 2023 and our AI allocation of 45% exceeded Stanley Druckenmiller at 29%, me

September 26, 2023
Stocks, Oil and the Dollar

Stocks, Oil and the Dollar

The two most important markets that are driving the S&P 500 is oil and the US dollar. Both are suggesting a continuation of the equity rally for another leg higher, but then the also suggest a return

September 15, 2023
Major Top or One More High

Major Top or One More High

September is widely known to be the worst month for tech as it’s the only month to see negative average returns for the past decade for the Nasdaq 100. Meanwhile, the index is entering September up 42

September 08, 2023
Tesla's Margins: How Low Will They Go?

Tesla’s Margins: How Low Will They Go?

Tesla stock has rallied through most of 2023 during a time when consensus was estimating sales to grow +23% y/y but earnings to decline 15%. The main driver behind the decline in earnings estimates is

August 31, 2023,format

Nvidia Stock: How We Plan To Position For Q2 Earnings

Nvidia guided fiscal Q2 at $11 billion, which is 53% higher than analyst expectations of $7.2 billion. The stock was up 25% after hours, adding $200 billion to its market cap in the matter of a day.

August 29, 2023
Alphabet Stock: Search Giant Is Just Getting Started

Alphabet Stock: Search Giant Is Just Getting Started

Going into this year, we were positioned for bottom-line focused investment themes that we felt would be able to deliver earnings growth due to secular demand for its products, and in some cases, be a

August 16, 2023
This Next AI Trend Could be Worth Trillions

This Next AI Trend Could be Worth Trillions

In the clip below, Beth Kindig discusses how AI will drive stock market caps well into the trillions of dollars.

August 04, 2023
Nasdaq Stock Exchange Building


On June 30th, the NASDAQ posted the strongest first six months in the index’s history, dating back to 1971. The 6-month returns of 30.5% in 2023 easily beats the prior record of 25.2% in 2019. The maj

August 01, 2023
Tesla Q2 Earnings - It's About Margins

Tesla Q2 Earnings – It’s About Margins

After the strong rally, it appears the market is taking profits on commentary around the outlook for margins. It’s not only that they were lower quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), but also Tesla provided zer

July 25, 2023,format

Semiconductor Stocks: Q2 Sector Overview

Semiconductors are the common denominator across the burgeoning technology trends of the next decade. Artificial Intelligence, 5G, high-performance computing, Internet-of-Things, gaming, electric vehi

July 18, 2023

Sign up for Analysis on
the Best Tech Stocks
The I/O Fund specializes in tech growth stocks and offers in-depth research for Premium Members. Investors get access to a transparent portfolio of 30 positions, a private forum, webinars, and real-time trade notifications. Sign up for Premium.

We are on social networks

Copyright © 2010 - 2023
Get Free Weekly Analysis on the Best Tech Stocks