Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) reported on Tuesday after markets closed that it lost $38.5 million, or 32 cents per share, on $431.4 million in revenue in the third quarter ending Sept. 30. Revenue was up 6 percent from the second quarter.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected to see Tesla earning $13.4 million, or 11 cents per share, on $534.64 million in revenue. After one-time charges linked to the company’s massive global expansion, losses of 11 cents per share were expected.
"As an automaker with shares trading well above mainstream car companies like GM and Toyota, Tesla’s appeal is based as much on image and reputation as hard financial numbers," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for automotive information and pricing provider Kelley Blue Book.
A bit of good news: Tesla said it boosted its vehicle gross margin to 21 percent from 14 percent in the last quarter. This figure excludes margin-boosting revenue from the sale of its California's Zero Emission Vehicle credits to other automakers.
Tesla gets seven credits for every vehicle it sells in the state, by far its largest market. Zero Emission Vehicle credit revenue dropped significantly, to $10 million from $51 million in the second quarter. This is good news because it means Tesla is weaning itself off dependence on noncar-related revenue.
The company said it’s building 550 cars a week, in line with expectations, as it has delivered “slightly over” 5,500 units, including 1,000 to customers in Europe.
"Our suppliers are also ramping up their capacity to meet our production targets," Tesla's letter to shareholders said, underscoring one of the bigger challenges for the company: filling back orders.
Telsa shares were being hammered in after-market trading. A share of TSLA was down more than 8 percent in after-market trading, to $162.93. The stock price is still up more than 10 percent from its Oct. 30 price as investors piled in this week in hopes of better news.
The outlook for the rest of the year: Tesla raised its forecast for vehicle deliveries slightly, from 21,000 to 21,500. It raised this outlook from 20,000 to 21,000 in the last quarter.