Should You Buy Tesla Stock Before Aug. 8?

Following a dismal delivery report, Elon Musk took to social media to give investors something else to look forward to.

One of the most scrutinized businesses in the world is electric vehicle (EV) pioneer Tesla (TSLA -1.92%).

Tesla’s unconventional CEO, Elon Musk, has a lot to do with the company’s constant position in the spotlight. Musk’s tendency to go off-script during earnings calls, often speaking in riddles and leaving investors questioning the direction of the company, is well known.

Earlier this month, Tesla released production and delivery figures for its EVs. The results were well below expectations, and since publishing the figures, the stock has fallen roughly 6%.

Faced with a souring investor base, Musk took to social media to post a cryptic update on the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions. Let’s dig into what Musk could be alluding to, and how it could affect his business in the long run.

What is happening on Aug. 8?

Three days after publishing dismal production and delivery stats, Musk took to X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) and posted the following:

As of April 16, this post has been viewed on X nearly 47 million times. Clearly there are a lot of people on the internet who follow Musk.

And while the robotaxi post initially spurred some excitement, users quickly pointed out one big question: What year was Musk referring to?

A few minutes after the initial post, he clarified by stating “8/8 and year of the Dragon.” For those unaware of the reference, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar.

Image source: Getty Images.

How big can robotaxis be?

Today, Tesla is primarily an EV and energy storage business. However, many bulls think that it will evolve into a much more sophisticated operation in the long run due to its ambitions in AI.

One area where AI will play a big role for Tesla is in autonomous driving. For now, some of the bigger players in self-driving vehicles are Alphabet‘s Waymo as well as Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors. But recent setbacks at Cruise only underline how challenging developing autonomous driving technology is.

Moreover, with over 1 billion miles of real-world data collected, Tesla has an unprecedented competitive advantage over its peers. Investors might be wondering how this edge in self-driving cars could benefit the company financially.

For starters, the company charges a subscription fee for its full self-driving (FSD) software. This is a recurring source of revenue, so there should be high margins on FSD. In turn, this should help bolster the company’s cash flow, which it can use to reinvest in other high-growth areas.

Taking this a step further, the more lucrative opportunity for the company is licensing its autonomous driving technology to other car manufacturers — an opportunity that long-term Tesla investor Ron Baron thinks could be worth $1 trillion.

Although Baron’s outlook is encouraging, another long-term supporter of Tesla is even more bullish. Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood suggested that breakthroughs in autonomous driving could lead to fleets of robotaxis, an opportunity she says could be worth $9 trillion.

Should you buy Tesla before Aug. 8?

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and delivery services like Instacart and DoorDash stand to benefit greatly from robotaxis given the cost savings versus employing human drivers. While the forecasts surrounding robotaxis vary, the common denominator is that some of the most accomplished investors on Wall Street share the idea that autonomous driving is an enormous opportunity.

So with Tesla leading the charge, should investors scoop up shares before Aug. 8? Here’s the thing: Buying a stock before a specific date is often an exercise in false precision. It’s far more important to spend time in the market as opposed to trying to time the market.

I wouldn’t consider buying Tesla stock in the months leading up to the potential robotaxi unveiling based on that idea alone. While it’s exciting, there are still lots of unknowns surrounding what Musk will actually present over the summer.

If you’re concerned that EV demand is stalling or if you question Tesla’s position in the AI realm, then buying shares based on that robotaxi post is more of an act of speculation than prudent financial judgment.

Rather, buying the stock right now should be rooted in your conviction that the company will continue penetrating the EV movement all while progressing on the AI front. If you’re optimistic that Tesla can achieve those things, then now could be a great time to employ dollar-cost averaging while the shares slide on the poor delivery report.

At the end of the day, the choice to invest in Tesla before the summer is yours. But it’s important for investors to understand that widespread deployment of robotaxi fleets is likely still years away. And while Musk’s update is both cryptic and intriguing, I’d caution investors to temper expectations for now. There are plenty of other reasons to like the stock besides robotaxis.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Adam Spatacco has positions in Alphabet and Tesla. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet, DoorDash, Tesla, and Uber Technologies. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors and recommends the following options: long January 2025 $25 calls on General Motors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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