Updated from 1:09 p.m. to include analyst comments in the sixth paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) Tesla Motors (TSLA) just pre-announced fourth-quarter earnings, and it's a winner.
Tesla VP Jerome Guillen announced the numbers from the Detroit Auto Show. He said Tesla delivered 6,900 Model S units during the fourth-quarter of 2013, 20% higher than initial guidance. Shares soared 11.6% to $155.57 following the announcement.
TSLA data by YCharts
When the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla reported third-quarter earnings in November, the company said it expects to "deliver slightly under 6,000 Model S vehicles in Q4, which increases our total expected deliveries to 21,500 vehicles worldwide for 2013."
In a press release, Tesla noted fourth-quarter sales were the highest in company history "by a significant margin," as the company exceed prior guidance by approximately 20%.
The company noted that the key drivers were "the superlative safety record of the Model S and great performance under extremely cold conditions."
Following the announcement, Baird upgraded Tesla to "outperform" from "perform," putting a $187 price target on shares. Analyst Ben Kallo noted he thinks 2014 delivery guidance will beat estimates. "We believe production is stronger than anticipated and TSLA's initial 2014 Model S delivery guidance could be higher than Street estimates," Kallo wrote in his note. "Additionally, TSLA remains several years ahead of competitors in battery technology and continues to make progress in ramping production and margin improvement."
Telsa has come under some scrutiny in recent months over the safety and reliability of its popular Model S. Tesla had asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to launch a probe into the Model S. The Model S has already been cleared by Germany's version of the NHTSA, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA).
Three Model S units have experienced fires, after experiencing terrible accidents, though Tesla has said that the fires were not the result of any malfunction in the cars. CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly said the Model S safety and track record is unparalled. "It is literally impossible for another car to have a better safety track record, as it would have to possess mystical powers of healing," Musk wrote in a blog post, at the height of the concern surrounding the Model S.
--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York>Contact by Email. Follow @Chris_Ciaccia
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