Mar 20, 2020 - Economy

Tesla says it can weather the coronavirus storm

Charger with Tesla logo at a Supercharger rapid battery charging station

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Tesla said it has enough resources to deal with an "extended period of uncertainty" as the electric automaker announced it will suspend production at its California factory.

Why it matters: Tesla can't be untethered from the future of electric vehicles, especially not in the U.S., where it dominates sales and plays a big role in pushing the sector closer to the mainstream.

Where it stands: Tesla did not estimate the length of the suspension. The company said it had $6.3 billion in cash at year's end, and that was before its recent $2.3 billion capital raise.

  • "We believe this level of liquidity is sufficient to successfully navigate an extended period of uncertainty," its announcement said.
  • "At the end of Q4 2019, we had available credit lines worth approximately $3B including working capital lines for all regions as well as financing for the expansion of our Shanghai factory."

What they're saying: Morgan Stanley analysts, in a note released before the announcement, projected that a month of lost production would reduce estimated full-year deliveries by 30,000 cars to 420,000.

  • They say Tesla would have "sufficient liquidity and access to capital during this time."

But, but, but: The note also models a "bear case" of a three-month hiatus and 100,000 units of lost volume, which is more severe but not fatal.

  • "We note that the company’s recent $2bn capital raise is roughly equal to the $2bn of burn in this bear case. In hindsight, the capital raise was extremely well timed and helped further bolster Tesla’s liquidity during this extraordinary time," it adds.

Go deeper: Tesla will finally halt California production amid pandemic

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