(excerpt)

Wall Street is starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to Tesla Inc., but until the Silicon Valley car maker finds its groove, there’s only one thing that matters.

Yes, the Model 3.

Tesla is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results after the bell on Feb. 7, and investors are sure to parse every word the company utters about the Model 3 production ramp.

“Our concern has been really the same since September,” said David Kudla, Chief Executive of Mainstay Capital Management. “It’s the Model 3 and production delays that continue to be delayed even further. Are they going to delay again, or are they going to make progress?”

Tesla recently filed to do its first asset-backed securities deal, and the company has moved to quash renewed concerns about its production.

Meanwhile, its stock performance continues to outperform benchmarks and competitors, even though the company is expected to report a wider loss for the quarter.

Tesla shorts, or those investors betting the stock will turn lower, have lost about $1.3 billion so far this year, according to recent data from financial analytics firm S3…

…Other issues: Chief Executive Elon Musk has taken to twitter to market the latest product of The Boring Co., the company he started with the aim of boring underground tunnels to ease traffic congestion: Flamethrowers.

“I’m the first to admit Musk is a genius,” but it is unclear whether making money is his goal for Tesla, Mainstay’s Kudla said.

“We still don’t know what’s happening with the manufacturing process,” he said, adding that he has shorted Tesla in the past year and made profits.

There will always be people who love Tesla like they love Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.19% and will give the company and its CEO pass after pass but for its products and cachet. But ultimately, the company has to make money to be taken seriously,” he said…

…Tesla in early January reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter deliveries, and pushed back for a second time the goal of producing Model 3s at a rate of 5,000 a week. That goal post, first set for 2017, then for the first quarter of 2018, has been moved to the second quarter of the year.

 

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