Tesla Results Mixed on Lower Shipments

Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) reported fourth quarter and full year 2012 earnings after markets closed today. For the quarter, the electric car maker posted an adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) loss of $0.65 on revenues of $306 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported an adjusted EPS loss of $0.69 on revenues of $39.38 million. First-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for an EPS loss of $0.53 and $298.4 million in revenues.

On a GAAP basis, the carmaker lost $0.79 per share, compared with a year-ago quarterly loss of $1.05. For the full year, Tesla's adjusted EPS loss totaled $3.20 on revenues of $423.26 million. The consensus estimates called for an annual EPS loss of $3.08 on revenues of $402.73 million.

In a letter to shareholders, the company's CEO and CFO said:

We will also continue to implement production and delivery efficiencies throughout the year. We have already made significant progress this quarter. As a result, we expect to be slightly profitable (excluding only non-cash option and warrant-related expenses) in Q1 2013.

In its outlook, Tesla said it expects to ship about 20,000 Model S sedans in 2013, with about 4,500 units shipped in the current quarter. In the fourth quarter Tesla shipped about 2,400 units, below its estimate of 2,500 to 3,000 units at the end of the prior quarter.

Gross margin rose from a negative 17% in the third quarter to a positive 8% in the fourth quarter, and the company is looking for gross margin in the "mid-teens percentage range" for the current quarter.

Tesla also says it will generate "slightly positive" net income in the first quarter on a non-GAAP basis. The consensus estimate for the current quarter calls for an adjusted EPS loss of $0.17 on revenues of $378.14 million.

Tesla's shares closed down about 1% today at $38.90 and have lost another 2.3% in after-hours trading, to fall to $38.00 in a 52-week range of $25.52 to $40.00. The consensus target price for the shares was around $42.10 before today's report.

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