Whitney Tilson’s e mail to buyers discussing his analyst’s bull case on Tesla and what professional automotive reviewers take into consideration the corporate’s automobiles.
Image Supply: PowerfulJRE/YouTube (screenshot)
Jump To Section
My analyst’s bull case on Tesla
My analyst Kevin DeCamp has owned Tesla’s stock for almost seven years and drives one. He despatched me this and gave me permission to share it:
Get Our Activist Investing Case Research!
Get the whole 10-part collection on our in-depth research on activist investing in PDF. Reserve it to your desktop, read it in your pill, or print it out to read anyplace! Enroll under!
Q1 hedge fund letters, conference, scoops and so on
When individuals drive a Tesla (or experience in a single), this tweet is their ordinary experience most of the time:
Or watch this 12-minute video by a guy who bought one of many first Model 3s a yr in the past and has put 26,000 miles on it: https://youtu.be/g6r5SRM2H3A
I feel the two guys above are closer to the “average American” than the finance guys who are brief Tesla. I admit without disgrace that buying a Tesla CHANGED my life!!
Tesla bears are likely to dismiss such rave critiques, saying things like, “Oh, its screen is like an iPad glued to the dashboard, I heard it crashes all the time right? I like Audi and Porsche interiors because they are way more luxurious, etc.”
In different words they see what they want, confirming their bias.
I received news for you, the typical American shouldn’t be brief Tesla nor knows what a stability sheet is. They really just have an instinct that Tesla is cool, is the longer term, and there’s NO means it might go bankrupt.
Lots of Tesla’s critics are “car guys” who work in finance and/or drive a Porsche. That is the last word handicap for understanding what Tesla’s convey to the table. They are NOTHING like the typical American. (Clearly “average American” is a very broad term. The standard “average American” couldn’t afford a Tesla though the Mannequin three opens up an entire new market.)
I wouldn’t be caught lifeless in a Porsche (or a Mercedes, BMW, Audi) as a result of I might really feel like a douchebag and it’s just not me. Nevertheless, I’m 100% cozy driving a Tesla for some cause. I want to assume I’m unique, but I consider many people feel the identical means. In any case, I traded in a Toyota for my Tesla and many individuals commerce in Nissan, Honda, and so forth. automobiles (as well as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi) for Teslas, as Andrew Left has identified.
Within the almost 7 years that I have owned the stock, I’ve by no means seen the bears so assured – virtually as if there’s zero chance they’re improper. The markets are likely to punish such hubris.
To summarize, this comment on Value Buyers Club captures my emotions nicely:
I have by no means seen this degree of shopper ardour, and the one thing that comes shut is Apple users thirty(?) years ago once they would endure all types of inconveniences to use an Apple desktop pc.
As a short, my nice worry is that someway they will translate this excessive passion over time right into a extremely profitable brand, like Apple. Automobiles are totally different from computer systems, and I don’t see how Tesla can pull it off, however this degree of passion is value something
The bear case is indeed extremely compelling. Nevertheless, what if Tesla gets by means of its present problems (because it all the time seems to) and this ardour continues to unfold and is highly effective enough to outweigh all of the negatives?
Numerous associates’ responses to my analyst’s bull case
1) I feel this guy nails it. I’m a finance man and assume this can be a horrible brief. Even if it really works it simply looks like a shit method to make a buck. The bears never speak concerning the automotive being superior and all the people who want one, myself included which must be the number one part of any bear thesis.
2) Have you ever pushed one bro? is the Tesla bear operating joke at this piont.
I’ve by no means felt better concerning the bear case studying this type of stuff. Anecdotal stories about folks that take pleasure in driving the automotive. No discussion on the dimensions of the addressable market, how impractical these are for many individuals, the standard points scaring individuals off, and Tesla’s horrific financials. Just a passionate following in the advantage signaling tech bro crowd. We get it.
three) Lol, you want a extra forward-looking “analyst.” Meanwhile, has he driven an I-Pace yet? [Kevin’s reply: I get a range anxiety attack just thinking about driving an I-pace or e tron ;).] Actually? How far do you sometimes take your Tesla between fees/repairs? In the event you drove an i-Tempo you’d understand how a lot nicer it is in all methods than any Tesla, and then you definitely may take a minute to “analyze” that there are around 30 luxury EVs about to comply with it. However then, that is not even essential: just take a look at March and April S/X sales in Norway vs i-Pace/e-tron.
four) The fallacy on this reasoning is that those who get into a Tesla usually are not comparing it to what’s at present obtainable out there immediately. There are properly over 300 totally different models out there for sale in the U.S. automotive market at the moment — earlier than stepping into finer variations akin to trim and engine options.
A minimum of 80% of these automobiles are considerably better than something that was on the street 6-7 years ago. But should you didn’t drive a very good sample set of the automobiles which might be out there at this time, you wouldn’t know that.
What occurs immediately is that any new automotive buyer who will get into a new automotive, loves it. It’s like getting a new pc, after the previous one is a bit worn and bogged down.
One other thing that professional automotive reviewers know is that the premium manufacturers — BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, and so forth. — are often not any higher than the “budget” manufacturers anymore. Sure, they could be a bit “fancier” however they don’t truly perform any higher. They could even be harder to make use of.
As an alternative, for the most effective of what the automotive world has to offer, take a look at the enjoyment of what you should purchase for $20,000 to $30,000 (after what are often big reductions from MSRPs $25,000 – $38,000) from brands comparable to Kia, Hyundai, Jeep, Honda, Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and Volkswagen.
All of them have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as commonplace. Tesla? Has neither. The one automaker on the planet that shuns Apple and Google. Some know-how there!
It is definitely true that Tesla Model S, X and 3 drive very nicely. Steering, dealing with, and the type of linear powertrain experience you discover with any electrical automotive — are all very good.
But ask any skilled auto reviewer: How is that this totally different from another new automotive out there immediately? The reply is: Not much. Some are just a little better, some are just a little worse — but they’re all, fairly good — and all of them are meaningfully higher than what was out there out there eight or ten years in the past.
I can completely see the attraction of shopping for a Tesla for some individuals: I stay in nice weather, I don’t have to fret about reliability, and I need to attempt something totally different. All of these elements conspire to offer a gap for a brand new product that gives one thing a bit of totally different. It’s virtue-signaling on steroids.
One of the key issues that Tesla might be operating up towards is that a automotive is, for probably the most half, a transportation gadget that you simply drive from A to B. What harm the U.S. automotive business starting in the 1970s, and accelerated all the best way until only a handful of years ago, is that the reliability was decrease than the competition from corporations comparable to Honda, Toyota and Nissan.
Some individuals will tolerate a little bit of lack of reliability if they get one thing particular for it. Nevertheless, if we now have discovered something from the automotive business in the final 45 years, it is that lack of reliability not solely kills the economics of the automaker, but in addition the endurance of the buyer.
Don’t take my word for it. TrueDelta measures what number of occasions a automotive is within the store. Which automotive is the only worst of any automotive out there at the moment? Tesla Model three. It is within the shop 468% greater than the typical new automotive: https://www.truedelta.com/Tesla-Model-3/reliability-1376
Notice that each one the “But have you driven it yet?” arguments for Tesla not often includes any blind checks towards regular state-of-the-art automobiles, or any thoughts from professional automotive reviewers, whose jobs it’s to drive *all* automobiles out there as we speak?
Yes, many and even most such skilled automotive reviewers agree that Tesla — Model three as well as the others — are enjoyable to drive, and have some robust attributes in some areas, but they will even inform you that the majority new automobiles out there right now maintain their own pretty nicely, and are indeed better on many or most metrics. On prime of all of those metrics is reliability, where Tesla is in 1992 Yugo territory on an excellent day.
In the meantime, contemplate that the Jeep Gladiator is the most well liked new car to hit the North American market in 2019: https://www.thedrive.com/news/27294/2020-jeep-gladiator-looks-like-the-perfect-adventure-truck-in-these-fresh-renders
That’s a solidly profitable car and not solely doesn’t need any specific ($7,500 tax credit) or implied (ZEV and GHG credits) subsidies so as to be worthwhile. It subsidizes every Tesla bought, and nonetheless manages to be strongly profitable.
With out government subsidies, Tesla gross sales can be 95% lower than it is at this time, in the relevant geographies.
PS—These comments are strictly from the buyer’s viewpoint. In fact the monetary issues are finally an important. Nevertheless, I feel your analyst is true when he stated that the typical American does not know what a stability sheet is.
He was also proper when he stated that some bears are too adverse, completely dismissing any constructive traits of a Tesla. The truth is that in the event you stay in a light local weather (Coastal California), and you haven’t (yet) experienced any service/reliability challenge, you’re more likely to be very comfortable together with your Tesla. Bears who don’t acknowledge this, shall be too bearish.
In the meantime, as of as we speak in Norway, Audi eTron plus Jaguar i-Tempo proceed to outsell Mannequin X+S mixed by a ratio of 5.5 : 1. Also, the Mannequin 3 is right down to 43 automobiles per day, down from 171 in March.