Tesla shares surge on earnings, delivery news

DETROIT - Electric car maker Tesla Motors (TSLA) set a quarterly record for deliveries of its Model S sedan, but its losses mounted due to increased engineering costs.

Tesla delivered 7,785 cars during the July-September period. That was slightly below its guidance of 7,800 but up 41.5 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Tesla said that was the highest number of quarterly deliveries in the company's history.

Its net loss widened to $74.7 million for the quarter, or 60 cents per share, about double its loss from a year ago.

Investors greeted the latest quarterly results and outlook by charging up Tesla's share price. The stock rose around 5 percent to $242.50 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

Accounting for leasing, stock-based compensation and other factors, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla beat analysts' expectations with earnings of 2 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of a penny.

On that basis, Tesla also beat analysts' revenue forecast, with revenue of $932 million. Analysts expected $892.1 million.

In the company's letter to shareholders that accompanied the earnings release, CEO Elon Musk said, "Being unable to increase production fast enough, not lack of demand, is a fair criticism of Tesla. That said, we expect our annual production will increase by over 50% in 2014, again in 2015 and probably for several years to follow. This is unusual in the car industry."

Also unusual is a new leasing guarantee Musk announced at the end of October: If customers don't like their Model S cars, they can return them within the first three months of the contract and Tesla will waive the remaining lease obligation. There's just one catch -- drivers can't immediately lease another Model S.