Tesla Motors Inc.'s (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock closed down nearly 6 percent Wednesday to $192.69, following comments from CEO Elon Musk in Detroit this week about the company's sluggish sales in China.
Speaking to a sold-out crowd at an event during the 2015 North American International Auto Show’s press day, Musk warned that Tesla's China sales would be down in the fourth quarter. The comments caused an after-market sell-off Tuesday that pushed the company’s stock price below $200 for the first time since May.
“We count on China to be an important part of the company's global growth plan,” S&P Capital automotive equities analyst Efraim Levy said in an email.
Tesla’s stock was already under pressure due to lower oil prices, which is perceived to work against electric cars' sales. Consumers tend to buy gas guzzlers based on falling gasoline prices.
The company’s share price has lost 15 percent of its value in the past six months and is about $100 down from its 52-week high of $291, touched in September just before gasoline prices began a free fall. The average national gas price is seen dropping below $2 a gallon for the first time since early 2009.
On Tuesday, Musk also said he doesn't expect the company to be profitable until 2020. But he also said he is confident the battery manufacturing plant Tesla is making with Japanese partner Panasonic Corp. in Nevada would bring down the price of the cells used in the battery packs that give the company's Model S the industry’s longest range of travel before requiring a recharge.
More details about Tesla’s fourth-quarter performance are expected late next month when the Palo Alto luxury carmaker releases fourth- quarter 2014 and annual results. The specific date has not yet been announced.