Why Tesla’s Revenue Growth Outshines Losses

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Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 earnings after markets closed on Wednesday. For the quarter, the electric car maker posted an adjusted diluted loss per share loss of $0.69 on adjusted revenues of $2.29 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted a net loss of $2.02 on revenues of $1.2 billion. Fourth-quarter results compare to consensus estimates calling for a per share loss of $0.43 and $2.18 billion in revenues.

For the year the company posted an adjusted net loss per share of $2.87 on revenues of $5.59 billion compared with a net loss of $5.39 per share and revenues of $3.43 billion in 2015. Analysts were looking for a net loss of $2.32 per share and revenues of $7.02 billion.

The results include the effect of Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City effective beginning November 21 through December 31, 2016.

On a GAAP basis, the carmaker lost $78 per diluted share in the quarter, excluding stock-based compensation, acquisition costs, and a $0.57 per share gain from the Solar City acquisition.

The carmaker built 24,882 vehicles in the quarter, down 1% sequentially and and up 77% year over year compared with the year-ago quarter. Tesla delivered 22,252 vehicles in the quarter. The company directly leased 1,132 cars to customers in the second quarter worth $117 million in aggregate value.

In its outlook statement, Tesla said it expects to deliver 47,00 to 50,000 Model S and Model X vehicles combined in the first half of 2017, representing growth of 61% to 71% over the first half of last year. Tesla also plans to invest $2 to $2.5 billion in capex ahead of production of the company’s Model 3.

In the solar energy business, the focus will be on profitability and cash preservation rather than megawatts deployed. Tesla said it plans to reduce customer acquisition costs by cutting advertising spending, selling solar products in Tesla stores, and shifting away from leasing solar systems.

The larger-than-expected loss was offset in investors’ minds by revenue growth. Orders rose by 49% compared with the fourth quarter of last year. That’s also good news for the company’s investors.

Tesla’s shares traded up about 2.5% at $278.80 in Wednesday’s after-hours session. The stock’s 52-week range is $167.84 to $287.39. The 12-month price target for the shares was $248.733 before the report with the highest target set at $500.00.