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Tesla’s 4Q net loss doubles but shares up on outlook

Lower-priced Model 3 sedan on schedule for release in 2017.


Tesla's Fremont, Calif. plant. PHOTO: Maurizio Pesce

Tesla’s Fremont, Calif. plant. PHOTO: Maurizio Pesce

DETROIT — Tesla Motors posted its 11th straight quarterly loss Wednesday, and its results badly missed Wall Street’s forecasts. But the electric carmaker’s shares soared anyway on news that its lower-priced Model 3 sedan is on schedule to be released next year.

Tesla said it will unveil the much-anticipated $35,000 car on March 31 and expects to start production at the end of 2017.

Tesla’s shares had fallen in recent days as investors worried that the Model 3 would be delayed. Investors also weren’t happy with the slow ramp-up of Tesla’s new Model X SUV. The company delivered only 206 SUVs in the fourth quarter and it curtailed production last month to work out some quality issues.

But Tesla said it’s accelerating Model X production and expects to produce 1,000 SUVs per week by the second quarter.

Tesla shares rose 13% in after-hours trading to $163.07. They are down 40% this year through the close of regular-session trading Wednesday.

Tesla lost $889 million, or $6.93 per share, for the full year. That compared to a loss of $294 million, or $2.36 per share, in 2014. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which was founded in 2003, has never made a full-year profit.

In the fourth quarter, Tesla’s net loss more than doubled to $320 million, hurt by the lower-than-planned Model X production. The loss, of $2.44 per share, compared to a loss of 86 cents per share in the same quarter a year ago.
Tesla delivered just over 50,000 vehicles for the year, up 60% from 2014. The company said it plans to deliver between 80,000 and 90,000 vehicles this year.

Tesla said revenue rose 27% to $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter as worldwide deliveries of its Model S sedan increased by more than 70%.

For the full year, Tesla’s revenue rose 26% to $4 billion.

Tesla says unadjusted figures do not reflect its true performance because accounting rules limit how it records revenue for leases. On an adjusted basis, the company lost $2.30 per share for the year, missing Wall Street’s estimate of a $1.25 per-share loss. Its fourth-quarter loss of 87 cents also far surpassed Wall Street’s estimate of a 16 cent loss.

Tesla’s adjusted full-year revenue of $5.29 billion also missed analysts’ forecast of $5.38 billion.

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