Tesla earnings: Loss of 13 cents per share, vs. expected EPS of 31 cents

Tesla's adjusted loss & revenue miss
Tesla's adjusted loss & revenue miss
Tesla to deliver 55K Model S and X cars this year
Tesla to deliver 55K Model S and X cars this year
Tesla delivered 9,834 cars in Q4
Tesla delivered 9,834 cars in Q4
2015 tough for Tesla
2015 tough for Tesla

Tesla reported fourth-quarter quarterly earnings and revenue that majorly missed analysts' expectations on Wednesday, but it struck an optimistic tone for the year ahead.

The company posted an adjusted loss of 13 cents per share, compared to 33 cents per share in the year-earlier period. Adjusted revenue for the quarter came in at $1.1 billion, against the comparable year-ago figure $761 million a year ago.

Analysts had expected Tesla to report earnings of about 31 cents per share on roughly $1.23 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

In a letter to shareholders, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and its CFO Deepak Ahuja wrote that the company had a "herculean effort" in building 11,627 vehicles—hitting its production target of 35,000 Model S cars in 2014.

Tesla was estimated to deliver 11,142 vehicles, according to StreetAccount, but only ultimately delivered 9,834. Musk and Ahuja said the company was unable to deliver about 1,400 cars because of "a combination of customers being on vacation, severe winter weather and shipping problems (with actual ships)" following a briefly delayed release.

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The electric automaker blamed its financials' missing expectations on that delivery shortfall, "one-time manufacturing inefficiencies," and the impact of a globally strong dollar.

Despite the EPS miss, Tesla's stock initially wavered in after-hours trading, but then declined more than 2 percent.

Looking ahead to 2015, Tesla said it expects to deliver about 55,000 Model S and X vehicles this year, which would represent a more than a 70 percent increase over the prior year.

About 40 percent of these expected deliveries will occur in the first half of 2015, Tesla said, so this year will be relatively back-loaded for the firm.

The car company also said it increased its prices in those international markets where the local currency has had a significant decline against the U.S. dollar, but it said this shift would not affect earnings until the second-quarter.

In its letter, Tesla revealed that the company plans to expand capacity in several areas, including installing new fabrication technologies in its Lathrop manufacturing facility in central California. Construction for the company's Nevada Gigafactory is on schedule to begin battery pack production in 2016, the letter added.

Reports came out earlier this week that Musk was preparing to fire some of the company's international executives after poor China sales. According to a source , the automaker only sold about 120 cars in China last month—well below targets.

This report cast doubts on Tesla's ability to expand internationally, and in an internal email to managers in late January, Musk threatened to fire or demote country managers if they are "not on a clear path to positive long-term cash flow,'' according to Reuters sources who saw the message.

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Another concern for the electric carmaker is that it may be developing a budding rivalry with Apple, with the companies reportedly poaching employees from each other.

Tesla stock has had a wild ride over the last three months, as shares suffered a major slide in tandem with oil's price decline—traders were betting that energy efficient cars would lose favor among consumers. Although the stock is still more than 15 percent lower than three months ago, it has rebounded slightly in recent weeks.

—Reuters contributed to this report.