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Tesla Books Lower-Than-Expected Q4 Loss

Tesla factory

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) reported after market closure on Wednesday a lower-than-expected net loss and significantly slower cash-burn rate for Q4, while it confirmed its target to have weekly Model 3 production at 5,000 cars by the end of Q2.

Still, the results aren’t pretty. Tesla reported adjusted loss per share of $3.04 in Q4, up from $2.92 for Q3, but lower than The Wall Street Journal analyst consensus of $3.11 and the $3.12 per-share loss expected by Thomson Reuters.

Tesla’s free cash flow was negative at $276.8 million in Q4, way lower than the $1.4-billion cash the company burnt in Q3 and the $969.8 million cash burnt in Q4 2016.

Analysts, however, don’t believe that the slower cash-burn rate is sustainable in the coming quarters, with some expecting Tesla to return to burning cash of around $1 billion in Q1 2018. Tesla shares were down 4.72 percent on NASDAQ at 12:13 p.m. EST on Thursday.

Apart from the financial performance, analysts were closely watching Tesla’s Q4 figures for updates on the Model 3 production rate after bottlenecks significantly hampered the company’s aggressive production plans for its first mass-market vehicle.

Tesla continues to target weekly Model 3 production rates of 2,500 by the end of Q1 and 5,000 by the end of Q2.

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“What we can say with confidence is that we are taking many actions to systematically address bottlenecks and add capacity in places like the battery module line where we have experienced constraints, and these actions should result in our production rate significantly increasing during the rest of Q1 and through Q2,” the company said.

“So I’m hopeful that people think that if we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we could probably solve Model 3 production. It’s just a matter of time, and really error bars on the timing are really quite small in the grand scheme of things,” Elon Musk said at the earnings call on the day he posted the “Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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