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Tesla Stock Closes In Bear Market Territory As Supply Chain Caution Clouds Record Q4 Sales

Tesla shares hit a three-month low Thursday after posting record Q4 sales but warning that supply chain disruptions would impact near-term output.

Updated at 5:13 pm EST

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report shares closed at the lowest level in more than three months Thursday after the carmaker cautioned that supply-chain disruptions have held back production capacity and will impact that pace of near-term output.

The warning took some of the gloss from a record fourth quarter, which saw revenues rise 65% from last year to an-all time high of $17.72 billion while gross automotive margins were pegged at a better-than-expected 29.2%.

Tesla said a continuation of global supply chain, transportation, labor and other manufacturing challenges would limit its ability to "run our factories at full capacity," although it noted that its original Freemont facility achieved a record production rate.

Founder and CEO Elon Musk said annual sales would still grow 50% from 2021 levels -- suggesting a full-year tally of around $75 billion -- even if only the Freemont and Shanghai gigafactories are running at full speed. 

"Having begun production at both Austin and Berlin facilities, chip availability remains a swing factor in ramping production," said Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch, who carries an "outperform' rating with a $1,103.00 price target on the stock. "Along with continued elevated freight costs, ramp inefficiencies are expected to be gross margin headwinds in 2022.

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Tesla shares ended 11.55% lower on the session to close at $829.10 each, the lowest since October 14 and a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date decline to around 21.5%.

Tesla said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December were pegged at $2.54 per share, up more than two-fold from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $2.34 per share. 

Tesla said on January 2 that global deliveries for the three months ending in December rose 70% from last year to 308,600 units, its sixth consecutive quarterly record, taking the 2021 total to 936,172 units. The China Passenger Car Association said Tesla sold 70,847 China-made cars last month, nearly three times that total recorded last year and more than a third ahead of November's pace.

Tesla said it didn't expect to introduce any new models to its fleet this year, and confirmed earlier reports that its much-hyped cybertruck would be delayed until at least 2023.

Musk, however, said his concern with truck was was more about "making it more affordable" than any design flaws.

Tesla also noted that it has "sufficient liquidity to fund our product roadmap, long-term capacity expansion plans and other expenses."

Earlier this week, analysts at Moody's Investors Service boosted their credit rating on the carmaker to the edge of investment grade status, a two-notch improvement from its prior credit grade, citing a prudent financial policy, solid liquidity and a 'considerable' increase in cash flow over the 2022 calendar year.