Tesla’s 4Q Profit Falls on Strong Dollar, Delayed Shipments

DETROIT (AP) -

Electric-car maker Tesla Motors says its fourth-quarter net loss widened to $107.6 million because of the impact of the strong dollar and a delay in shipments of its new all-wheel-drive Model S sedan.

The loss, of 86 cents per share, compared to a loss of $16.3 million, or 13 cents per share, in the October-December period a year ago.

In a letter to shareholders, Tesla said it held back shipments of its new all-wheel-drive Model S sedan – which was launched in November – to make sure it would meet customers’ expectations. While it was able to make up production later in the quarter, it was unable to ship around 1,400 vehicles in December.

Tesla also said the strong dollar has had a negative impact. The company’s research-and-development costs also doubled in the fourth quarter and for the full year as it prepares to launch the Model X SUV later this year.

Tesla says unadjusted figures do not reflect its true performance, because accounting rules limit how it records revenue for leases. On an adjusted basis, the company lost 13 cents per share in the fourth quarter. That missed Wall Street’s forecast of a 30-cent-per-share profit.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 55 percent to $956.6 million. Adjusted revenue of $1.1 billion missed analysts’ forecast of $1.23 billion.

For the full year, Tesla lost $294 million, while revenue jumped 60 percent to $3.19 billion.

Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which was founded in 2003, has never made a full-year profit.

But Tesla said it met its goal of producing 35,000 vehicles for the full year.

Tesla currently makes one car, the Model S sedan, which starts at $71,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Model X is scheduled to go on sale this fall, while the Model 3, a $35,000 car, is expected to go on sale in 2017.

CEO Elon Musk said last month that Tesla may not show an unadjusted profit until 2020, when it is selling an estimated 500,000 cars per year. Tesla said it expects to deliver 55,000 vehicles in 2015.

In after-hours trading Wednesday, Tesla shares dropped $8.30, or 3.9 percent, to $204.50.