Tesla battery supplier Panasonic reported its earnings this morning, stating it took a 39 percent drop in first-quarter earnings due to COVID-19 lockdowns in China and rising materials costs.
Panasonic said its operating profit for the three-month span ending on June 30 was 63.7 billion yen, or $470.77 million. This missed a consensus estimate of 73.3 billion yen, or $544.74 million.
Chief Financial Officer Hirokazu Umeda admitted the numbers “look weak.” However, Panasonic is not shying away from its full-year operating profit projections, which stand at 360 billion yen, or $2.66 billion. “We judged that it is not necessary to make a change to our outlook,” Umeda said, according to Reuters.
Portions of China were locked down for two months due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Panasonic was not the only company affected by the closures, which ultimately affected the company’s performance. Tesla was also forced to shut down its vehicle manufacturing facility in Shanghai for three weeks, which contributed to the company’s first quarter-over-quarter reduction in automotive deliveries. However, Tesla reported an extremely strong financial performance during the quarter.
While the COVID shutdowns hindered Panasonic’s production, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affected battery material availability. The situation has largely affected the EV supply chain, which has caused raw material prices to skyrocket, thus increasing prices of electric cars.
Mining experts called on industry leaders like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Ford CEO Jim Farley to voice their support for local mining, which would alleviate soaring material costs. “I would encourage the big names: Musk, Farley, Barra, to start demanding Nickel sourcing in North America,” Trent Mell, CEO of Electra Battery Materials, said. “There is no immediate North American solution to growing nickel demand, but we anticipate that the construction of processing capacity on the continent will act as a catalyst to bring more primary nickel, in the form of mining operations, online in coming years so that North America can become increasingly self-reliant on domestically sourced raw materials. There are ample, good-quality nickel projects in North America.”
Panasonic recently announced plans to open a cell manufacturing facility in Kansas, which will help supplement its supply deal with Tesla for its 4680 batteries. Production of the Tesla cell will begin in Japan sometime next year.
Panasonic wants to increase battery production by three to four times by 2029, with most of the growth coming in North America.
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