Tesla Stock Battered on Soft Profit Guidance

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Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) reported first-quarter 2014 earnings after markets closed on Wednesday. For the quarter, the electric car maker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.12 on adjusted revenues of $713 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted EPS of $0.12 on revenues of $561.79 million. First-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.10 and $699.1 million in revenues.

On a GAAP basis, the carmaker lost $0.0.40 per share, compared with a year-ago break-even first quarter. The significant one-time items included in the GAAP loss were $0.30 a share in stock based compensation and $0.17 for deferred profit due to lease accounting.

The carmaker boosted production by 15%, to “almost 700” vehicles a week and delivered 6,457 vehicles in the quarter. The company expects to deliver about 7,500 Model S sedans in the current quarter which would leave Tesla less than halfway to its full fiscal year goal of 35,000 deliveries.

The company plans to build 8,500 to 9,000 cars this quarter in order to fill the pipeline of products to Europe and China with 1,000 to 1,500 vehicles. Tesla also noted that the gap between production and deliveries is expected to decline in future quarters which seems to indicate that the company might be hitting a ceiling in demand.

The company’s leasing program is expected to encompass just 200 cars in the second quarter but that number is expected to rise over time.

What is probably hurting the stock most in after-hours trading today is the forecast statement that R&D spending will rise by about 30% sequentially and that SG&A expenses will rise 15%. Tesla said it expects to be “marginally profitable” in the second quarter, a far cry from the $0.27 EPS that analysts’ were expecting.

Shares are trading down about 4% at $192.80 in a 52-week range of $55.71 to $265.00. The consensus target price for the shares was around $227.40 before today’s report.

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