Tesla Motors managed to beat analysts’ forecasts for the third quarter, but still delivered an adjusted, $75 million loss for the third quarter, or 58 cents a share. Nonetheless, that was two cents better than what was expected, according to S&P Capital, sending Tesla stock up in after-hours trading.
The net loss, using more conventional GAAP procedures, came to $229.9 million for the July to September quarter, or $1.78 a share, compared with a $74.7 million deficit, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier.
The announcement comes at a critical time for Tesla. The maker just launched its second product line, the Model X battery-electric SUV. And it has begun rolling out its new AutoPilot system which permits semi-autonomous freeway driving. But the maker also took some recent hits from a key consumer group over ongoing reliability problems.
(Autonomous vehicles involved in high number of crashes. Click Here for the story.)
Total revenue for the quarter came to $936.8 million for the quarter, a 10% increase. That reflects, among other things, the availability of new, higher-priced models, such as the Model S P90d. Tesla also delivered slightly more vehicles than originally expected, 11,603 compared to the 11,580 it had earlier forecast.
It handed over the keys to a handful of Model X battery utes during a much-watched introduction last month, but it doesn’t expect to see significant sales of the new model for a while. Fourth-quarter deliveries are expected to push up to somewhere in the range of 17,000 to 19,000 vehicles, Tesla forecast.
The maker is expected to deliver between 50,000 and 52,000 vehicles for all of 2015, down from an original prediction of 55,000, and is looking to build nearly 2,000 Model S sedans and Model X utes per week in 2016.
“Overall, our net Q3 takeaway,” said analyst Efraim Levy, of S&P Capital, “is positive.”
Despite continuing losses, investors are betting on the if-come, anticipating a strong reception for the Model X, continued demand for the Model S, and a successful launch of the Model 3, the promised Tesla mainstream battery car expected to be priced around $35,000.
“Since the Model X launch event, order rates have accelerated for both Model S and Model X,” he wrote in a letter to investors along with Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja. “Although it is too early to draw firm conclusions, this supports our belief that Model X expands the market for Tesla vehicles, with little to no cannibalization of Model S.”
The Silicon Valley carmaker expects to begin taking orders for the Model 3 next March, even though it won’t reach showrooms for nearly two more years – if Tesla can hold to its schedule. It was two years late to market with the Model X.
It appears to be holding to its schedule with the launch of the new Gigafactory, the giant battery plant set to open next year in Reno, Nevada. That plant will be crucial to Tesla’s automotive plans, as well as its new home and office battery-backup subsidiary.
(Tokyo Motor Show puts a premium on green and autonomous vehicles. Click Here for more.)
Tesla investors were also buoyed by Musk’s comments that sales in China appear to be improving after a slow start, and despite the overall slowdown of that market.
“We expect order growth in China to remain strong with more store openings and the recent policy changes in Beijing and other major cities that allow buyers of Tesla vehicles to bypass license plate restrictions,” the South African-born entrepreneur wrote.
There have been some setbacks for Tesla. Among other things, the maker was slammed by Consumer Reports last month because of worsening quality and reliability issues. The influential magazine withdraw its coveted “Recommended Buy” endorsement for the Model S, even though it had given the sedan a perfect 100-point rating in road tests earlier in the year.
Teslar shares fell to $208.35, a 5.44% decline, during Tuesday trading on Wall Street. But the stock surged to around $230 in after-hours trading.
(For more on the Consumer Reports downgrade, Click Here.)