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1) $TSLAQ's number one supplier, Panasonic, held a results meeting tonight in Tokyo. Motorhead had to fly in for that. This thread gets sexier near the end, but let's start with this quote from Pana's CEO, when asked about whether Pana & $TSLAQ's relationship is on the rocks:
2) "Panasonic considers itself not as a 'Tesla supplier', but as a 'partner'". In my 20 years of covering auto suppliers, I've never once heard a supplier call one of their top customers "an equal partner". Implication: Pana has no fears of walking away from relation w/ $TSLAQ.
3) Pana's CEO went on to say: "Because we're partners, we can say whatever we want to say to each other". This is why Pana's top execs were talking smack about $TSLAQ in the press 3 weeks ago. Currently, Pana is "saying whatever they want" re: low Models S/X production at $TSLAQ.
4) Pana also confirmed that GF1 is at 35GWh/year in capacity, contrary to Musk's claims of only 24GWh. Pana did admit that they're not running at full capacity, as new lines just installed aren't up & running yet. But Pana's GF1 profits should rise this year on better yields.
5) Pana stressed that, even if yields go up at GF1, "we need to see whether the Model 3 will really grow from hereon and this is something we are closely monitoring". The CEO said Pana won't invest more in its $TSLAQ biz until they see GF1 running at full capacity and get a +ROI.
6) Pana admitted to me that their Mar'19 Q profit miss in its Energy biz was due to output of $TSLAQ's Models S/X having plunged by -43% YoY. I also revisited the story of Pana having "delayed" invoices to $TSLAQ for 6 months on unused cell inventory in Q2 & Q3 2018.
7) Pana told me that the 6-month deferred payment from $TSLAQ on a huge cell order in Q2 & Q3 2018 was due to "Tesla having ordered too many cells and not having produced enough Model 3s." $TSLAQ told Pana they'd pay them back in Q4'18 & Q1'19.
8) Pana said this was because $TSLAQ was "tight on cash" and why Pana had to extend its invoice by 6 months to $TSLAQ. While I didn't get a straight answer, it looks like Pana got part of this in Q4'18, but maybe not all of the rest in Q1'19. "We're still negotiating."
9) Musk wants more GF1 capacity, but Pana refuses. Pana's CEO clearly stated that there is "ample" supply at GF1. I was told that Pana is simply sick of getting cell orders from $TSLAQ, making them, & then being told by $TSLAQ that they didn't need them due to production misses.
10) While Pana's CEO did try to put a positive spin on its relationship w/ $TSLAQ, saying "things were heading in the right direction", it was clear that Pana is in a position of power. Oh, and Pana told me that they're using "much lower" 2019 estimates than $TSLAQ's 360K-400K.
11) One positive for $TSLAQ: I confirmed that the ~$4.1bn of purchase obligations at $TSLAQ for 2019 is not "written in stone". Pana reserved against it. This jibes w/ what $TSLAQ said on its Q1 conf-call: "we don't have to pay it tomorrow. It can be paid over a couple of years."
12) In sum, Pana's CEO asserted Pana's position as "equal" to $TSLAQ; the Models S/X are a problem; Pana's 2019 guide for GF1 profit rise is due only to improving yields, as M3 outlook "needs to be monitored"; and $TSLAQ tends to come to Pana, cup in hand, when cash gets tight.
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