Tesla posts Q2 loss; says 5,000 Model S sedans to ship this year

Luxury electric car maker maintains revenue guidance despite questions about ability to turn out high volumes of new Model S sedan.

Model S Tesla

Short on revenue but a beat on profit -- bottom line: Wall Street liked what it heard from Tesla about its second quarter.

The luxury electric car maker posted a non-GAAP loss of $93 million, or $0.89 per share, 3 cents better than Wall Street expected, on $27 million in sales during the second quarter. The consensus revenue estimate was $30.9 million.

The loss was slightly better than expectations, though the sales figure came in light as analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of 93 cents a share on revenue of $30.7 million. Tesla also reaffirmed a 25 percent gross margin target for next year.

In a letter to shareholders published after the close of trading today, Tesla said it was maintaining revenue guidance of $560 million $600 million and Model S volume projection of 5,000 units for 2012. Tesla also said that it expects to deliver approximately 500 vehicles to customers during the current quarter with the balance shipped out during the fourth quarter. It maintained its volume prjection for the Model S at 5,000 units for the full year.

Tesla's ability to crank out the Model S has recently come under question. Several analysts worry that the company will make fewer cars in the third quarter than Wall Street earlier estimated. One analyst, Theodore O'Neil of Wunderlich Securities, is on the record saying that Tesla will miss its monthly manufacturing targets. Instead of 1,000 units per month, he says the company will make half of that number. Originally, Tesla thought it would make 5,000 units in 2012 and four times that many next year.

Not that it has undermined Wall Street's confidence in the company. Several brokerages -- including Needham & Company, Maxim Group and Jeffries Group -- have recently repeated their existing recommendations on the stock while Barclays Capital reaffirmed its overweight rating. In fact, today's news was welcomed by investors who sent shares of the Tesla up around 3.7 percent in extended trading.

In a release, CEO Elon Musk put a positive spin on the earnings.

"We are thrilled that our customers, investors and the media have now had a chance to see for themselves just how compelling Model S is. We are also excited to have delivered the first group of Model S cars. We continue to focus on our long term goals of increasing quality production of the Model S so that we can achieve all of our goals to deliver on our volume, cash flow and profitability commitments."

Later on the conference call with analysts, Musk also offered a tidbit about a bit of behavior not usually associated with company CEOs: He personally inspects the cars before they get delivered to customers.

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