Tesla Stock Sinks After Release Of 2012 Financial Results

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Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock price for 5 days ending Feb 21, 2013 [Yahoo Finance]

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock price for 5 days ending Feb 21, 2013 [Yahoo Finance]

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Yesterday was a bumpy ride for the stockholders of electric-car maker Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

Following the company's Wednesday release of its 2012 financial results, including an after-hours conference call, the stock plummeted yesterday.

Before the earnings call, it had closed Wednesday at $38.54. Yesterday, it opened sharply lower at $36.49 and closed at $35.16, almost $5 off its recent high.

At one point during the day, it had fallen to below the $35 level, which was enough to trip a so-called digital "circuit breaker" meant to slow the short sales of falling stocks.

Analysts suggested the market was expressing disappointment in Tesla's earnings per share, which were $0.12 below the pre-release consensus estimate.

As investor/commentator Tate Dwinnell summarized the sentiment:

It wasn't a terrible quarter from Tesla, but far from good too.

The company reported revenues that were just ahead of estimates at $306 million, but reported a wider loss than what analysts were looking for (-$0.65 vs. -$0.53).

Helping to drive the stock lower was likely a soft deliveries number. Deliveries were 2,400 for the quarter and about 2,600 for the year...below what the company was expecting.

Saibus Research also noted that Tesla Motors stock had increased almost 40 percent from its low last September to its level just before the earnings call, meaning that some pullback may have been inevitable.

Many analysts suggest that the real test comes in the current quarter, as the street waits to see if Tesla can actually deliver the 4,500 Model S electric luxury sport sedans that CEO Musk projected.

The current quarter is the first one in which the startup carmaker will build 400 cars per week, its target production rate, and begin to reduce its backlog of deposits, now at roughly 15,000.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with Tesla Roadster

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And, far more important, stockholders and analysts alike will be eagerly waiting to find out whether Tesla Motors is in fact profitable for the January-March period, as Musk suggested it would be.

Saibus summarizes its view of Tesla's 2012 results this way:

While we don't think that Tesla will generate as much profit as the CEO is projecting, we believed that this quarter would be important in gauging Tesla's ability to survive as an independent going concern.

In other words, wait for the current quarter's numbers--which will likely be released sometime in late April or early May--to get the first inklings of how Tesla performs at its full production rate.


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Comments (13)
  1. Good buy opportunity...

  2. If Elon does not swotch to the swappable batt model he will be left with the relatively few enthusiasts who want to show off their environmental credentials but not with the wider public who will not wait 30 minutes to drive another 90 miles. Five minute switch for 200 miles is something people will ditch their gas cars for

  3. Battery swaps only make financial sense for fleet vehicles and race cars. For those in the "wider public" that are not willing to wait for a "fast" charge, there are PHEV options.

  4. Battery swapping is already a dead business model and coming here repeatedly and claiming that EVs cannot grow from a niche unless battery swapping happens is ridiculous.

    Not needed for 99% of EV drivers and never will be. Sorry.

  5. I agree, Supercharging where 80% charge can be obtained in 30 to 45 minutes makes much more sense than battery swaps. Most people will not be adverse to 30 minute charge time with greater than 4 hours of continous driving. I see a day where capacitors could allow for charging times of 10 minutes or less. This along with the cost reductions that occur as production costs of batteries are expecteds to be reduced by roughly 5 to 8% each year could lead to affordable high driving range EV's very soon. I am looking forward to seeing Tesla releasing their Blue Star $30,000+ vehicle in 2015

  6. @ Yuval Brandstetter: Actually 30 minutes will get you another 150 miles of range not 90. Half that time again and people will ditch their gas cars.

    Battery swapping the way BP does it is a dead end because the cars have little range and would need a very dense network of expensive and cumbersome battery change stations to make them somewhat road trip capable.

    I would agree that with Tesla's big batteries the concept starts to make more sense: far fewer stations would be needed and Tesla toyed in fact with the idea. Problem might be to find enough suitable locations along highways to build such large stations.

  7. After Big Investment Private And Government Battery Swap Has Failed To Get Off The Ground Here In Canberra Australia.

  8. So far Tesla has proven it has a great product that it can build in substantial numbers to meet substantial demand without serious quality issues.

    Now it needs to prove it can actually make money selling the number of cars the traffic will bear. The fact that even the guy whose job it is to be optimistic -Elon Musk-is very cautious about profit predictions indicates that Tesla has still a lot of work to do optimizing the production process to get at the target 25% gross profit per unit.

  9. I guess GCR and I share the same taste in the financial website. :)

  10. Too bad it's only a static picture though. Doesn't show the stock is already picking up bit again. Stock values will vary and it's usually more to do with psychology than economics.

  11. Disappointing that the share price is so volatile on relatively innonuous news, but not really a concern long term. We know Tesla can excel technically, now it's time to show it can at least tread water financially. Which I think Tesla can do, although I'm sure there will be occasional bumps in the road simply due to being a startup and having to much to do with far more limited resources than a typical automotive OEM.

  12. Yesterday was an awesome opportunity to buy Tesla shares, so I did. Already made a nice profit today as the stock bounced back.

  13. Presumably not Joe Huber from Thunderbird...??? Yeah, I thought about the same thing. Made a killing on Ford at $2.60 and lost a bit on GM in the past... Need to save my money for the solar I hope to have installed by the time I go from my Volt to a Tesla, i3 or other EV in 2015.

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