The bad news was a sharp drop in the price of the electric car maker's stock to under $200 a share Friday. Yet, four times in the past three years it has rebounded sharply--averaging a 20% gain in a few months--from that point and the good news is encouraging for a fifth turn up--this time with a strong chance to keep climbing.
The good news was that the company announced that it reached its third-quarter target with deliveries rising 70%, to 24,500. The jump and number of deliveries was impressive--if not crucial--for Tesla. Deliveries are a key factor in the company's leaps to become a major auto dealer by selling only electric cars and Tesla reached its quarterly target after missing it in the previous two quarters.
To be sure, the electric car pioneer faces many challenges now and in the future. Two current ones have attracted particularly unfavorable attention too. First, the fatality during the Autopilot trials raises questions about Tesla's ability to provide this important auto feature. Secondly, its bid to buy SolarCity (SCTY) , a major solar panel leaser, is mired in lawsuits and may be a distraction for Tesla management.
Over the long haul, there are still questions about Tesla's ability to ramp up sales against increasingly stiff competition. The company is aiming for a million car sales in four years against rivals like General Motors (GM - Get Report) , Ford (F - Get Report) and Mercedes, which all have their own increasingly aggressive electric car programs.
Still, Tesla is in the lead and is showing strength in reaching its interim goal. It plans to up its current 100,000 car pace annually to deliver 500,000 cars in 2018 and already by August it had more than 400,000 $1,000 deposit-backed reservations for its Model 3, the carmaker's first mass market auto, which is due out next year.
Although not as much discussed, its ambitious battery plans have not suffered any major setbacks. Tesla's projected $5 billion lithium-ion battery gigafactory is rising up out of the Nevada desert on schedule to produce batteries for Tesla's cars, as well as for use in cellphones, power tools and solar panels, like those that might hook up to a SolarCity system, among other products. With such potential, battery sales might yet exceed the car business.
While Tesla still has a long way to go, it can get there fast. After all, in just a dozen years it has gone from a "green" novelty to a global auto dealer with a market capitalization of $28 billion. That's a rear mirror view, but with the way things are going for Tesla, investors may have an even better picture right up ahead and long down the road.