Porsche will not be going public any time soon, Stellantis didn’t make 600,000 cars because of the chip shortage, and Tesla. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 28, 2021.
1st Gear: VW Is Doing Nothing About Porsche For Now
Earlier this year, Volkswagen was reportedly considering spinning off Porsche, to capitalize on what was then a pretty hot market for automakers going public. That was because, you know, Tesla is a public company and worth hundreds of billions (now a trillion) and if Tesla can do that why can’t Porsche. The same logic went into Polestar going public, along with Volvo, along with lots of far less reputable companies, like Nikola and Fisker.
Anyway, VW said Thursday that it is — probably smartly — backing away from those plans for now. (Whether or not Volvo’s “stuttering” IPO has anything to do with it is anyone’s guess.) Porsche, of course, is one of Volkswagen’s crown jewels, and the logic here appears to be: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“We think we are well organized now in the premium sector, this is working for us quite well now,” [Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess] said on a call with reporters. “We don’t sell any of the other assets currently.”
Speculation around a potential listing of VW’s key profit center has swirled for months, and the executive has previously tempered expectations for such a move.
VW’s key stakeholders are meeting next month to review the German industrial giant’s rolling five-year investment plan that includes unprecedented expenses for new technology like electric and self-driving cars as well as an aggressive expansion of software operations.
VW Chief Financial Officer Arno Antlitz said he was “quite confident” the investments can be financed from the group’s own cash flow — so long as the company hits cost-savings targets.
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Also part of the logic of Porsche going public was, again, to do as Tesla did, which was to finance the transition to electric vehicles by selling stock. Porsche seems to now think it can do that without going down that road.
2nd Gear: VW’s Profits Also Dinged By The Chip Shortage
VW’s earnings announcement Thursday also included likely job cuts, which will not sound good for anyone who works for VW. VW also said it made $3.25 billion in the third quarter, even as it made fewer deliveries because of the chip shortage. Why the job cuts, then? Well, you know, capitalism and all that.
Volkswagen, which aims to overtake Tesla as the world’s largest seller of EVs by the middle of the decade, confirmed its operating profit margin target of 6.0-7.5% for 2021.
Diess on Thursday said he was confident that Volkswagen could keep up with Tesla, but added this would require further cost cuts, including headcount reductions at its Wolfsburg headquarters in western Germany.
“For sure we need some headcount reduction, to be as competitive,” Diess said.
Tesla is planning to open a plant in Gruenheide near Berlin, its first gigafactory in Europe, this year although no final approval has been given by authorities. read more
Diess said the Tesla site was setting a new benchmark in terms of productivity, speed and lean management.
Third-quarter operating profit came in at 2.8 billion euros ($3.25 billion), down 12% versus last year and lower than the 2.99 billion Refinitiv forecast. The profit margin for the July-September period fell to 4.9% from 5.4% last year.
“The results of the third quarter show once again that we must now systematically drive forward the improvement in productivity in the volume sector,” Diess said.
As you were.
3rd Gear: The Chip Shortage Took A Bite Out Of Stellantis, Too
If semiconductors for cars had been readily available, Stellantis said Thursday that it would have made 600,000 more cars than it did in the third quarter. But semiconductors weren’t and Stellantis didn’t.
Revenue amounted to 32.55 billion euros ($37.8 billion) in the third quarter, short of analyst expectations of 33.02 billion euros in a Reuters poll.
“The level of chip shortage was probably slightly higher than what we had expected when we last spoke to the market in August,” [Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer] said, adding the full-year total toll of lost production would top a previous forecast of 1.4 million units.
“Visibility on semiconductors continues to be a difficult subject for the industry,” he added.
Stellantis’ consolidated shipments fell 27% year on year on a pro-forma basis in the third quarter to 1.13 million vehicles.
Lower volumes more than offset an improved vehicle mix and positive net pricing - which accounted for 2.4 billion euros and 1.6 billion respectively of quarterly revenues - after recent vehicle launches, including electrified ones, the company said.
“We see positive pricing across all regions,” the CFO said, adding he saw good progress on post-merger synergies and cost management.
It is darkly funny to think back on the times before the pandemic, when we were afflicted with Trump but otherwise the world was a more predictable place.
4th Gear: Hertz Is Going In For 100,000 Teslas And Half Will Be Ubers
This is a bingo card of odious companies, well, Tesla and Uber at least. Hertz seems like a regular company, though its eagerness to tie up with Tesla and Uber is thirsty at best. Hertz, earlier this week, said it would be buying 100,000 Teslas, half of which will apparently be Ubers.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Hertz Global Holdings Inc. HTZZ -1.60% said Wednesday it is linking up with Uber Technologies Inc. UBER -2.80% to make 50,000 Teslas available in Uber’s ride-sharing network by 2023, the latest in the rental-car company’s efforts to build momentum postbankruptcy.
The Teslas that Hertz plans to add to the Uber network will come from the initial 100,000 vehicle order and future orders as the program grows.
The latest deals are part of a broader strategy by the postbankruptcy Hertz to modernize its operations and fleets, leveraging new tech to improve logistics and give customers more options, particularly on plug-in electric models, said Mark Fields, Hertz’s interim chief executive.
“One of the biggest benefits of a restructuring like ours is it gives us a fresh perspective,” Mr. Fields said in an interview. “It allows us to take the approach of instead of saying ‘why?’—‘why not?’”
“Instead of saying ‘why?’ — ‘why not?’” is the perfect quote from a CEO. Mark Fields should write for “Silicon Valley.”
5th Gear: Lawyer Who Won Massive Settlement Against Chevron Is Going To Prison
A lawyer named Steven Donziger has reported to prison for a six-month term, The New York Times reports, in a case that is a bit messy. In Ecuador, Donziger won a $9.5 billion settlement against Chevron in the 1990s, and Chevron has been hounding him ever since. Now, Donziger is headed to prison over contempt of court charges, all because he won’t give them access to his phone and computer or some shit.
The legal process has been byzantine, to say the least.
On July 31, 2019, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a former corporate lawyer, tried to charge Mr. Donziger with contempt of court based on his refusals in 2014 to give the court access to decades of client communications on devices like his phone and his computer. That year, Judge Kaplan supported Chevron’s complaint in a 500-page ruling finding that Mr. Donziger and his associates had engaged in a conspiracy and criminal conduct by ghostwriting an environmental report used as a crucial piece of evidence and bribing a judge in Ecuador.
After the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute the case, Judge Kaplan took the rare step of appointing a private law firm, Seward & Kissel, to prosecute Mr. Donziger in the name of the U.S. government, Mr. Kuby said.
Seward & Kissel has represented many oil and gas companies throughout the years, including Chevron in 2018.
Misdemeanor criminal contempt carries a maximum sentence of one year. If the penalty is more than six months for this type of charge, Mr. Kuby said, a defendant would get a trial by jury. Even after multiple objections by Mr. Donziger, Judge Loretta A. Preska lowered the sentencing to six months — it had previously been set to a year — and denied Mr. Donziger’s request for a jury trial.
In July, Judge Preska found Mr. Donziger guilty of all charges. On Oct. 1, Mr. Donziger was sentenced to six months in prison, a day after he asked the court to consider an opinion by independent United Nations experts that found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years a violation of international human rights law.
Judge Preska agreed to not incarcerate Mr. Donziger immediately, giving him a chance to appeal the conditions of his bail. In a court order on Oct. 12, Judge Preska declared that if Mr. Donziger’s appeal failed, he would have to surrender himself within 24 hours of the decision.
This all started with oil spills in Ecuador in the ‘90s, which Chevron doesn’t even dispute, instead saying Ecuador’s national oil company bears responsibility. I’m hearing reports that the oil companies are bad.
Reverse: Duluth Seems Nice
But by the 1960s, freeways in cities across the country were growing less popular every year. Opponents argued that they destroyed homes and businesses, eviscerated poor neighborhoods and made traffic congestion worse, not better. In Duluth, anti-road activists geared up for a fight. In 1970, a group called Citizens for Integrating Highways and the Environment began to argue that the waterfront was the city’s biggest asset and that putting a huge expressway between it and downtown was a terrible idea. Meanwhile, a group called Stop the Freeway mobilized to do just that.
Highway officials came up with a compromise: They would keep the road, but they would put it underground instead of on stilts and they would build a lakefront park on its lid. This “cut-and-cover” plan turned out to be a smashing success. The $220 million tunnel kept the disruption of the road to a minimum and provided city residents and tourists with an extremely pleasant place to go and relax. The month it opened, the tunnel won an Excellence in Highway Design Award from the Federal Highway Administration. “People who once adamantly opposed the downtown freeway,” Lake Superior Magazine explained, “are now some of the same people who are responsible for its aesthetic appeal. Likewise, those who insisted that the freeway could be built in no other place in Duluth admit that citizen concern forced an admiral design that might not otherwise have been considered.” A spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation summed it up: “The great thing is that this… was Duluthians deciding what was best for Duluth and then all working together to make it happen.”
According to this, this tunnel marked the completion of 99.7 percent of the Interstate Highway System. Now, let’s dismantle it and build a high-speed rail network instead.
Neutral: How Are You?
I am getting the booster shot this afternoon. The second COVID shot did not put me out like some other friends, which I attribute to dumb luck. I can’t wait for the third to knock me out completely.