(Reuters) — Tesla Motors forecast deliveries of Model S sedans and Model X SUVs that topped analysts’ estimates on Wednesday and said it expects to turn a profit in 2016, sending shares up sharply despite a wider fourth-quarter loss.
Tesla shares were up 13 percent in after-hours trading after closing at $143.67. However, the company’s stock is still down more than 30 percent since the beginning of the year.
The Silicon Valley electric car maker straddles the digital technology and automotive industries, which have both been hard hit this year by investors worried that growth is slowing in both sectors. General Motors Co earlier this month reported record profit, but its shares have fallen 18 percent this year.
Tesla reported a wider fourth-quarter net loss of $2.44 a share, compared with a loss of 86 cents a share a year earlier. Deliveries of Model S sedans and Model X sport utilities were 17,478 vehicles in the quarter, at the low end of prior forecasts.
However, investors bid up the company’s shares in after-hours trading on Chief Executive Elon Musk’s promise that vehicle sales would grow by 60 to 80 percent this year, and that the company would generate positive cash flow and turn a profit this year on an adjusted basis.
“You cannot bet against Elon Musk,” said analyst Ivan Feinseth of Tigress Partners.
Musk said Tesla would generate positive cash flow even after investing $1.5 billion to add capacity to a huge battery factory in Nevada, and start producing battery cells there. “Moderate GAAP profitability is expected in the fourth quarter,” Musk wrote. GAAP refers to the generally accepted accounting principles that govern how listed companies report results.
Tesla’s cash reserves dropped to $1.2 billion as of Dec. 31 from $1.9 billion a year earlier, despite a sale of shares last summer. The company’s cash burn has become a concern for some analysts, given the heavy capital spending it has mapped out.
Tesla said it planned to deliver 80,000-90,000 Model S and Model X vehicles in 2016, ahead of Wall Street’s average expectation for about 79,000 vehicles, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
Tesla said its long-promised moderately priced car, the Model 3, would be unveiled on March 31. Musk, in a letter to shareholders on Wednesday, said the Model 3 should be launched in 2017. Some analysts have questioned whether the Model 3, expected to start at $35,000, would slip into 2018, further behind GM’s similarly priced Chevrolet Bolt electric car.
Revenue rose nearly 27 percent to a record $1.21 billion on higher sales of the Model S and demand for the Model X, which launched in September.
(Reporting by Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru and Alexandria Sage in San Francisco; Writing by Joseph White; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Matthew Lewis)
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