Tesla cuts revenue forecast due to slow Model S rollout

PALO ALTO, Calif., Tue Sep 25, 2012 – Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. cut its forecast for 2012 revenue on Tuesday because of a slower-than-expected rollout of its Model S sedan, sending its shares down almost 7 percent.

The company said in a regulatory filing it now expects full-year revenue in the range of $400 million to $440 million, down from its prior outlook of $560 million to $600 million.

“We have methodically increased our Model S production at a rate slower than we had earlier anticipated,” the company said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“Certain suppliers have experienced delays in meeting our demand and we continue to focus on supplier capabilities and constraints,” the company added.

Tesla, backed initially by a group of Silicon Valley venture capital firms, has said it expected the Model S, with a base price of $57,400, to provide 90 percent of the company’s revenues this year.

The company plans to roll out the Model X crossover utility vehicle in 2014 and a smaller sedan code-named Gen III in 2015.

Tesla said Tuesday it expects third-quarter revenue in the range of $44 million to $46 million, reflecting the lower deliveries of cars.

The company sees the gross profit margin in the quarter in the range of negative 15 percent to negative 18 percent, hurt by the limited number of Model S sedans. It also cited manufacturing inefficiencies, higher costs for initial parts and the delay of development services revenue from German automaker Daimler AG.

Tesla expects gross margin to “improve substantially and turn positive” in the fourth quarter as it ramps up Model S volumes and cuts costs.

It also said it expects the finalize its agreement on development milestones and related payments with Daimler in the fourth quarter.

Tesla said research and development spending for the third quarter will be about 20 percent lower than the second quarter, while selling, general and administrative expenses will increase modestly in the third quarter over the prior three-month period