Tesla posts wider net loss, stands by full-year delivery target

By Reuters

May 06, 2015 06:25 PM EDT

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) Wednesday reported a wider first-quarter net loss, but outperformed expectations and stuck to key milestones for the year ahead despite pressure on margins.

Shares of the Silicon Valley electric car maker rose about 2 percent after hours from their close of $230.43.

The company reaffirmed plans to start delivering its Model X sport utility vehicle late in the third quarter. The Model X, its second high-volume model, is critical to Tesla's goal of delivering 55,000 vehicles this year.

The automaker said it still expects to achieve that full-year sales goal, but warned that a "less rich product mix" would push down average selling prices for the Model S sedan, which now starts at $76,200.

Tesla said last month it had delivered 10,030 Model S sedans in the first quarter, a 55 percent increase from the year before. The company on Wednesday forecast deliveries of 10,000 to 11,000 vehicles in the second quarter.

Automotive gross margins for the just-ended quarter were 26 percent on an adjusted basis. The company forecast narrower automotive gross margins of "just under" 25 percent for the second quarter.

Tesla said it raised prices for cars sold in Europe by 5 percent to offset the currency exchange hit.

Tesla reported an adjusted net loss of 36 cents a share in the latest quarter, excluding certain expenses, compared with a profit of 14 cents a share on the same basis a year ago. Analysts had been expecting a loss of 50 cents a share on that adjusted basis. Tesla's net loss in the just-ended quarter was $1.22 a share, compared with a 40 cents a share net loss a year ago.

Tesla's cash reserves fell to $1.5 billion as of March 31 from $1.9 billion at the end of 2014. Company executives said in February the pace of cash consumption would slow during this year and cash flow would turn positive in the "latter half of the year."

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk wrote in a letter to shareholders on Wednesday that Tesla still plans $1.5 billion in capital spending this year to expand production capacity, buy production tooling for the Model X and complete its large battery "gigafactory" and other facilities.

Tesla shares have been boosted since late March by anticipation for a new line of energy storage battery systems for homes and businesses that Musk unveiled last week.

He said the company will start producing energy storage systems, marketed by a new subsidiary called Tesla Energy, in the third quarter.

Home units will start at $3,000. Analysts say the market for stationary energy storage batteries could grow into the billions of dollars as more homeowners and businesses look to store energy produced by solar or wind power systems, and take advantage of subsidies for sources of power that do not emit greenhouse gases.

Musk said the stationary battery storage systems could be "materially profitable" sometime next year.

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