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Tesla loses $700 million after two profitable quarters

Moneywatch: Ghosn bail, Uber drivers, Tesla loss
  • After posting two profitable quarters in a row, for 2019's first quarter, Tesla reported a loss of $700 million.
  • Model 3 production gained slightly, but output of the Model S and X fell sharply, bringing overall deliveries down 31 percent.
  • Excluding one-time items and stock-based compensation, Tesla lost $2.90 per share, worse than Wall Street estimates.

Tesla posted a first-quarter net loss of more than $700 million as sales of its electric cars slump and demand appears to be waning. The electric-car maker said it ended the quarter with $2.2 billion of cash and equivalents, down from $3.7 billion at the end of 2018.

Tesla said it produced about 63,000 of its entry-level Model 3 vehicles in the first quarter, approximately 3 percent more than in 2018's fourth quarter. However, deliveries of Model S and Model X declined to 12,100 vehicles in the first quarter compared to the two-year run rate of roughly 25,000 units quarterly.

The company lost $4.10 per share from January through March, when overall deliveries fell 31 percent from the fourth quarter. Tesla had warned it would lose money after turning two straight quarterly profits last year for the first time in its 15-year history.

Excluding one-time items and stock-based compensation, the company lost $2.90 per share, worse than Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of $1.15 per share. Revenue rose almost 40 percent over a year ago, but it still fell short of analyst estimates of $5.42 billion.

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CEO Elon Musk last year predicted quarterly profits in the future. But Tesla had trouble cutting the cost of its Model 3 mass-market electric vehicle. In its outlook, Tesla said "Although we are driving towards higher internal goals, we reaffirm our prior guidance of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicle deliveries in 2019, representing an increase of approximately 45 percent to 65 percent compared to 2018."

In after-hours trading shortly after the earnings release, Tesla shares were up around 1 percent, to $261.

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