Tesla Inc. probably needs to boost spending early this year to keep growing, which could lead to surprise losses from a company that most of Wall Street expects to be profitable from now on, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts.
The electric-car maker has “starved” capital expenditures the last several years, analysts led by Kevin Tynan wrote in a report Wednesday. Elon Musk will need to hire more sales and service staff to keep boosting sales outside the U.S., and the chief executive officer risks “bogging down” technological advances by continuing to temper spending on research and development, Tynan said.
“Generating overseas momentum requires Tesla to push SG&A higher in 1H, in our view, possibly adding hundreds of millions in costs and risking a return to losses, versus consensus for sustained profitability,” Tynan wrote. Tesla’s slashed expenditures are “incongruous for a growth-mode company laden with so many pending expansion plans and open-ended product announcements.”
Musk and Zachary Kirkhorn, Tesla’s chief financial officer, declined to discuss capital expenditure plans for this year during a Jan. 29 earnings call, telling analysts the company would release more details in its annual 10-K filing. Tesla hasn’t released the report yet.
Tesla (TSLA) reported $1.3 billion of expenditures for all of last year, well below its initial plan for as much as $2.5 billion. It’s pared back spending each of the last two years from $3.41 billion in 2017.