* Electric car maker lost $0.79 per share in Q4
* Revenues jumped as Model S production surged
* Company expects 'near breakeven' on cash flow in Q1
By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, Feb 20 Tesla Motors Inc said
it expects to realize its first profit in the first quarter of
2013, after posting a net loss of $89.9 million in the fourth
The electric-car maker, founded by Elon Musk, went public in
2010 and since then has narrowed its losses as production of the
Model S sedan ramped up late last year.
The fourth-quarter loss of $0.79 per share came on revenue
of $306 million. Full-year revenue was $413 million, with a loss
of $396 million, or $3.69 per share.
Tesla closed down $0.74 at $38.54 on Wednesday, before the
earnings announcement, after rising nearly 18 percent since its
Dec. 31 close of $33.87. In after-hours trading, the stock
dropped as low as $35.55.
In January, CEO Musk said Tesla hoped to earn a quarterly
profit later this year.
In its earnings release after U.S. markets closed Wednesday,
the company amended that timetable, saying, "We expect to be
slightly profitable (excluding only non-cash option and
warrant-related expenses) in Q1 2013."
Tesla also it expects to be "near breakeven on cash flow" in
the first quarter.
The carmaker, based in Palo Alto, California, said it plans
to deliver more than 20,000 Model S sedans this year, with sales
rising higher in 2014 as the car is introduced in new markets
outside North America. Tesla said it sold 2,650 Model S sedans
in 2012, most of them in the fourth quarter.
Tesla plans to begin selling the Model S in Europe this
summer and in Asia this fall.
Musk in January said the company had reached its target
production rate for the Model S of 20,000 a year and expects to
launch the Model X, a luxury crossover built on the Model S
platform, in the second half of 2014, with a smaller, less
expensive sedan code-named Genn III to follow in 2015-2016.
The automaker, founded by Musk, went public in 2010. The
Model S is the company's second electric vehicle, after the
two-passenger Roadster sports car. The Model S, which went into
production last June, starts at nearly $60,000 before a federal
tax credit, with stickers ranging to more than $105,000.
The company said it is reducing production costs while
boosting gross margins, with a target of 25-percent margins by
Tesla said it made its first loan repayment of $12.7 million
last quarter to the U.S. Department of Energy, with a second
payment due in March. The automaker received $465 million in
low-interest loans from the DOE.
The Model S continues to attract considerable attention from
prospective customers - including a reservations list that stood
at more than 15,000 at year-end - and the media.
Musk last week took to Twitter to dispute a critical Feb. 8
review by New York Times reporter John Broder that said the
Tesla Model S sedan ran out of battery power sooner than
promised during a chilly winter test drive.
Musk tweeted that the Times test was a "fake," which the
publication challenged and Broder refuted in a followup story.
Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan on Monday said Broder
took "casual and imprecise notes" of his test drive and did not
exercise good judgment, but noted that vehicle data logs
reproduced by Musk on Tesla's website were "sometimes quite
Sullivan concluded that "there is still plenty to argue
about and few conclusions that are unassailable."
In a blog post Tuesday, Musk countered that the Times
"reversed its opinion" of the Model S and "no longer believes
that it was an accurate account of what happened."
During a conference call Wednesday with analysts, Musk said
Tesla is planning to add more battery charging stations and
improve the technology of its Supercharger system this year.