Premier American electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors (TSLA - Analyst Report) reported Q3 earnings after the bell Tuesday, zooming past revenue estimates of $566 million to $603 million in the September quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly earnings was $0.00 per share, and minus stock-based compensation, the Zacks EPS for Tesla in the quarter is -$0.05 per share (non-GAAP, the company reported 12 cents, a 1-cent beat). From our view, call it a mixed report.
Shares are selling off heavily after-hours, after a slightly positive trading day in the regular Tuesday session; TSLA is down 11% as of this write-up. Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) credits were light, and CEO (and real-life Buckaroo Banzai) Elon Musk's goal of 25% gross margins reached 21% in the quarter, but it's unclear at this stage why traders are selling off so aggressively.
After all, earnings for Tesla are not as important as revenues in its still-nascent stage. Rolling out more and more of the popular Model S cars, working on bringing to market its Model X SUV crossover, and building out a "supercharger corridor" all the way up the Pacific Coast have been requiring a few capital outlays in the quarter, to say the least. And that's before mentioning the potential burgeoning race in the next decade to producing semi-autonomous cars, which appears will include players such as Nissan (NSANY - Snapshot Report) and even Google .
The company's letter to shareholders indicates Tesla is on track to have built 21,500 in 2013 by year's end, and 5500 Model S's were delivered in its 3rd quarter. Pretty impressive for an auto company that first put a Roadster in someone's garage only five years ago.
That said, it's hard to see statistics like this and square it with Tesla's $21.5 billion market cap -- not too far from half of what GM's (GM - Analyst Report) current market cap is -- as well as TSLA's +400% rise in share price year-to-date. (Including the sell-off following two incidents of fire with the Model S.)
Perhaps the lofty tier upon which Tesla's current value sits is too much for after-market traders tonight, but one might expect to find a pretty attractive entry point if the sell-off continues much longer. This is a company that has absolutely captured the imagination of investors worldwide, and it is perhaps the single-best example of why people buy equities in the first place.
It's like Noah Cross told Jake Gittes at the end of the classic film "Chinatown." When Jake says, "How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?" Cross tells him: "Why, the future, Mr. Gittes!"