Tesla plunge: Fears of a cash crunch and production delays
It's been a brutal month for Tesla: Analysts are worried about delays shipping its new Model 3, and say it will soon face a cash crunch. Plus there's a government investigation into a recent fatal Model X crash.
The stock has now plunged 25 percent in March, following sharp declines this week.
Tesla's debt was downgraded on Tuesday by Moody's Investors Service, which cited a "significant shortfall" in production of its Model 3 electric vehicle. Moody's is concerned Tesla will soon need to raise a large amount of money to pay off debt, and raising that money will depend on boosting production.
That means reaching production levels of as many as 5,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of June, Moody's noted -- in line with Tesla's projections. Tesla did not comment on the Moody's downgrade.
Because the company is investing in expanding its production and car lineup, its costs are high and its revenue hasn't yet caught up. The result: Tesla will burn through about $900 million of cash per quarter in the first half of 2018, according to UBS Securities analyst Colin Langan, who has a "sell" rating on the shares.
Even hitting its production goals won't save the day, according to Langan, since each car will be a money-loser after accounting for spending on research and development and other costs.
Tesla is also under scrutiny after the fatal crash of a Model X in California on Friday. Tesla blamed a missing safety barrier for the severity of the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into the crash, noting it was unclear if Tesla's automated control system was active at the time.
Tesla pointed to a blog post about the crash, in which it said it's working with authorities to recover the car's logs.
"We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash," Tesla said in the blog post.
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