Tesla Motors Plunges Despite Earnings Beat

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Tesla Motors ( TSLA) plunged 8.4% to $162.13 after the electric automaker reported third-quarter results that beat Wall Street estimates, as revenues, excluding Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) credits came in below forecast.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla reported earnings of 12 cents a share on $603 million in revenue, as the company delivered 5,500 Model S units during the quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting Tesla to report earnings of 11 cents a share on $534.64 million in revenue.

Gross margins came in at 21%, excluding ZEV credits.

"We are now producing 550 cars per week with improved process controls which consistently result in high quality cars," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a letter to shareholders. "Consequently, we finished the quarter with a record of slightly over 5,500 deliveries, including over 1,000 deliveries to European customers. Production in the quarter significantly exceeded deliveries in order to fill the pipeline of vehicles in transit to Europe and provide cars for service and marketing uses."

Tesla 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."

Additionally, the company noted, "ASPs are expected to be relatively flat sequentially as we continue to see a rich mix of options on incoming orders. Model S gross margin may continue to make slight improvements over the next several quarters as we continue to drive down manufacturing costs. While we expect to achieve our target of 25% non-GAAP automotive gross margin in Q4 (assuming no contribution from ZEV credits), further progress is likely if customers continue to purchase our vehicles with a high option take rate."

Tesla will host a conference call starting at 5:30 p.m. EST to discuss the results.

Shares of Tesla finished the regular session higher, gaining 1% to close at $177.00.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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