See also:In a letter detailing Tesla Motors’ (TSLA) fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, Elon Musk seemed to deliver a lot of what investors have been hoping for. He vowed that the company would turn a profit in its next quarter. He said that Tesla’s factories were humming and would meet the demand for 20,000 all-electric Model S sedans this year. He showed (PDF) that revenue surged 500 percent sequentially to $306 million. And he laid out a framework for getting Tesla’s gross margins up around 25 percent.Instead of greeting this as a feedbag of good news, investors busted Tesla in the gut. They sent shares down about 5 percent after-hours. The main concerns seemed to be Tesla’s larger fourth-quarter loss—$89.9 million, vs. $81.5 million a year earlier—and a lack of clarity on how Tesla will get costs down. There also seemed to be some worry that people who had put $5,000 down to reserve a Model S were now backing away from actually buying the car.
During a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Musk did his best to knock down all the gripes. “We are not demand-constrained,” Musk said. Tesla added 6,000 reservations in the fourth quarter, up from 2,900 in the previous quarter. The company has capped its production at 500 cars per week to ensure quality, according to Musk. So demand continues to outstrip supply by quite a margin. The hope is that 4,500 cars will leave Tesla’s Silicon Valley factory this quarter.
As for the costs, Musk noted that Tesla had to pay a ton of overtime last quarter in order to meet its shipping commitments. Workers were putting in 68-hour weeks, on average. As Tesla has fine-tuned its manufacturing operation, workers have moved down to 50-hour workweeks. Musk says he’ll look to get rid of part-time workers to further lower Tesla’s costs....MORE
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