Fuzzy Math is Back: Tesla Earnings Don't Add Up

By Matthew Askari | November 07, 2013
It seemed Tesla could do little wrong, but then the news started to change. There was that overblown media frenzy surrounding a Tesla Model S recorded on video burning away on the side of a highway, which caused Tesla shares to instantly tumble. Now this week, amid Tesla's earnings report, it seems the California-based electric car maker may have tried to paint a rosy picture of an otherwise lackluster quarter. The media and Wall Street--of course--re having none of it.
In a statement released by Tesla, the automaker reports figures that uses non-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) data to report earnings. Under the non-GAAP statement, Tesla Motors reported a profit of $16 million, on $603 million in revenue. Using GAAP methodology, the automaker actually had a loss of $38 million, on revenue of $431 million. This isn't the first time Tesla has played fast and loose with its figures. Remember the Tesla lease "deal" for only $500? Those figures were at best misleading, too.
While there is a large discrepancy in those figures, the quarter did see a record high of 5,500 Tesla Model S electric vehicles delivered, and news that the automaker plans to ramp up production to keep up with growing demand. Tesla said in a statement:
"We are now producing 550 cars per week with improved process controls which consistently result in high-quality cars. We finished the quarter with a record of slightly over 5,500 deliveries, including 1,000 deliveries to European customers." Tesla shares closed down 14.51 percent on Wednesday, to $151.16 per share. Source: Tesla, Automotive News (subscription required)