TESLA MOTORS (A): FINANCING GROWTH. Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


Ratio analysis

In order to evaluate company’s financial strength ratio analysis have been conducted for Tesla motors. Debt to equity ratio of the company signifies the increasing trend and indicates that the company uses relative proportion of debt and equity. The company has gradually shifted its financing from equity to debt. Due to which the ratio has increased over the period. The high debt is also an indicator of high risk and returns. The growing debt is an alarming sign for the investors as the company is experiencing negative net income from past few years and still is unable to transform it into positive income. Though the company growing revenue is a sign of relief and is the reason that the investor and lenders are confident enough to provide investment to the company.

The net working capital of the company is also fluctuating, indicating that the company’s cash is tied up into the inventory due to which the company has limited cash to pay back its short term liabilities. The net working capital in the year 2015 has become negative showing that the current liabilities have exceeded company’s current asset and company don’t have sufficient assets to backed its current liabilities.

The performance efficiency can be evaluated by analyzing the company’s operating cycle. The company operating cycle has increased over the period this shows the inefficiency of the company to quickly convert its assets into cash. Due to which the company is facing cash deficiency and will require additional financing in order to run its function smoothly.

The gross profit margin of the company has improved over the year it is mainly because of the increase in the net sales of the company that has grown significantly over the year. Each year the demand of the products has been increasing, as reflected in the revenue of the company which is contributing toward a positive gross margin.


 Alternative 1:

The investor should invest in the company as it seems to be a lucrative investment. Though there are some pros and cons attracted with the criteria that should be consider by the investor while opting for this option:


  1. Strong sales trend of the company is one of the reasons that attract investor towards the company. Each year the company sales are growing at an increasing rate.
  2. For the coming Model 3 the company has received 325000 reservations within a first week that represent the future sales of $14 billion. This is more than half of its entire 2016 volume, showing why the investors are so confident, that the future sales will materialize.
  3. The expected future cash flows of the company are also indicating a positive NPV, making the investment seems financially viable.


  1. Tesla’s operating cash and operating margins are both negative.
  2. Tesla has negative income, and the company without any hesitation seems to compromise its current profits for its future growth.
  3. The uncertainties of the deliveries and failed promises can brutally affect the share price of the company and its overall image in the market.

Alternative 2

The investor should not invest in the company due to the high uncertainty about the future performance of the company and its unrealistic production benchmark for production, which seems to be unachievable y the company, after analyzing its current production. The pros and cons attached with this decision are as follows:


  1. The investor will save himself from the loss because as predicted by some of the analyst at Wall Street, the company shares are underweight as a greater risk is attached relative to demand, execution and competition.
  2. The investor can effectively utilize its investment in comparatively stable company offering sufficient dividends.


  1. Tesla sales has grown to the point where its new affordable model is being recognized and helping the company to easily approach the mass market, making its financial metrics look comparable to major automobile companies.
  2. The launch of Model 3 carries a tremendous symbolic value, as tesla transition from a niche player to a major automaker in the industry.


Tesla motors, pioneer of the electric car is a great company, it success and image is evident by the enthusiasm of its consumers for its products. After the success of the previous model the company came up with another model targeting the mass market, with the first week of its reservation, the company received 325,000 booking, representing $14 billion in future sales. Looking at this figure the company seems to be a lucrative investment despite of the fact that the company has not yet achieved a positive annual net income, while its stocks is still over valued by 6 out of the 10 Wall Street analyst.

If an investor is looking for a short term investment than is not advisable to invest in Tesla Motors because the company’s operating cash and operating profit margins are both negative because the company heavily invest on the research and development and is ready to forgo short term profit for future growth.

In case of long term the company seems to be a financially viable investment, the net income in the coming years as forecasted in the pro forma income state statement is also seems to be positive with a significantly growing revenue. The median of the targeted price is $305 while the mean is $296.8 and currently the stock is being traded at $211.17, this make the stock a good buy because in case the company’s stock do not reach the price target predicted by Dougherty & Company. The investor investment will still be termed as a lucrative investment because the cumulative mean of the investment is still significantly more than the current price of the stock.


Exhibit 1 (Tesla Pro Forma Income Statement)

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Automotive sales 385699 1921877 3007012 3740973 4863265 6322244 8218918 10684593
Development services 27557 91619 191344 305052 320304.6 336319.8 356499 374324
Total revenues 413256 2013496 3198356 4046025 5183569.5 6658564 8575417 11058917
Cost of revenues
Automotive sales 371658 1483321 2145749 2823302 3049166.16 3293099 3556547 3841071
Development services 11531 73913 170936 299220 418908 586471 821060 1149484
Total cost of revenues 383189 1557234 2316685 3122522 3468074.16 3879571 4377607 4990555
Gross profit 30067 456262 881671 923503 1715495.34 2778994 4197810 6068362
Operating expenses
Research and development 273978 231976 464700 717900 969165 1308373 1766303 2384509
Selling, general and administrative 150372 285569 603660 922232 1152790 1440988 1801234 2251543
Total operating expenses 424350 517545 1068360 1640132 2121955 2749360 3567538 4636052
Income/Loss from operations -394283 -61283 -186689 -716629 -406459.66 29633.3 630272 1432310
Interest income 288 189 1126 1508 1583 1663 1746 1833
Interest expense -254 -32934 -100886 -118851 -124793.55 -131033 -137585 -144464
Other Income (expense) -1828 22602 1813 -41652 -43318 -45051 -46853 -48727
Income/Loss before income taxes -396077 -71426 -284636 -875624 -572988 -144788 447580 1240952
Provision for income taxes 136 2588 9404 13039 13300 13566 13837 14114
Net Income/loss -396213 -74014 -294040 -888663 -586288 -158354 433743 1226838

Exhibit 2 (Tesla NPV)

NPV $994,889
WACC 12.60% (calculated by J.P Morgan)

Exhibit 3 (Ratio Analysis)

    2013 2014 2015
Debt to equity ratio Total liabilities/Total equity 2.62293 5.35186 6.39286
Net working capital Current assets - Current liabilities 590779 1091491 -24706
Operating cycle DIO + DSO – DPO 17 54 58
Gross profit margin ratio Cost of sales 4266.394521 6347.082 8554.855
Days Inventory Outstanding
Cost of sales 4266.394521 6347.082 8554.855
Average inventory 79.77579156 150.2541 149.3699
Days Sales Outstanding
Net sales 5516.427397 8762.619 11085
Average account receivable 8.902319647 25.8603 15.24267
Days payable outstanding
Cost of sales 4266.394521 6347.082 8554.855
Average account payable 71.24727883 122.5675 107.091


Exhibit 4 (Tesla share price performance)


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