Updated at 10:08 am EST
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Free Report shares fell sharply lower Thursday, extending a six-month decline that has loped more than $350 billion from the world's most valuable carmaker, after it posted softer-than-expected third sales and said full-year deliveries may fall just shy of its 50% growth target.
Tesla said revenues rose 56% from last year to $21.45 billion, missing analysts' forecasts of a $21.96 billion tally following record quarterly deliveries of 343,830 vehicles.
Adjusted earnings for the three months ending in September, Tesla said, were pegged at $1.05 per share, up nearly 70% from the same period last year and 5 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast.
Gross automotive margins were 27.9%, a 600 basis point decline from last year, Tesla said, and flat to the figure recorded over the second quarter, owing to put a surge in input costs and expenses linked to the ramp-up of new factories in Austin and Berlin.
"We have begun to smooth the regional builds throughout the quarter to reduce our peak needs for outbound logistics," CFO Zachary Kirkhorn told investors on a conference call late Wednesday. "We expect this to simplify our operations, reduce costs, and improve the experience of our customers. As we look ahead, our plans show that we're on track for the 50% annual growth in production this year, although we are tracking supply chain risks which are beyond our control."
"On the delivery side, we do expect to be just under 50% growth due to an increase in the cars in transit at the end of the year, as noted, just above," he added. "This means that, again, you should expect a gap between production and deliveries in Q4, and those cars in transit will be delivered shortly to their customers upon arrival to their destination in Q1."
Tesla shares were marked 6.5% lower in early Thursday trading to change hands at $207.42 each, a move that would extend the stock's six-month decline to around 36.5%.
Part of that decline, however, has been linked to the sale of Tesla shares by CEO Elon Musk, who has exited some of his holdings in order to both raise cash to satisfy tax liabilities and fund his portion of the planned $44 billion acquisition of Twitter TWTR, which is expected to close late next week.
Musk told investors last night that he's "excited about the Twitter situation", even as he conceded that "myself and the other investors are obviously overpaying" for the social media group.
The billionaire didn't address the issue of stock sales, but did suggest that Tesla could execute a share buyback of between $5 billion and $10 billion sometime next year, "obviously pending board review and approval..
"We've debated the buyback idea extensively at the board level," Musk said. "The board generally thinks that it makes sense to do a buyback. But we want to work through the right process."