Elon Musk’s pretty good week keeps rolling as Tesla slides through Q4 with same production targets

Tesla CEO Elon Musk managed to send his Tesla Roadster into space — because why not? — earlier this week, and it looks like his week (and Tesla’s) is still looking up for now following the company’s fourth-quarter results.

The company slightly beat Wall Street’s expectations on the financial front, and said it’s still targeting producing 2,500 Model 3 vehicles by the end of the first quarter. Tesla previously stated this target, but as it starts to ramp up a new vehicle that’s geared toward a larger market, it’s had to deal with the production headaches that come with that. The company still said that it’s not an exact science regarding that target, but it didn’t seem to tune down the expectations, and the stock was slightly up as a result. What’s probably more important is that it’s not spiraling downward (yet), which means Wall Street at first blush is alright with what it sees and is going to continue to be patient with the company.

“We continue to target weekly Model 3 production rates of 2,500 by the end of Q1 and 5,000 by the end of Q2,” Tesla said in its statement. “It is important to note that while these are the levels we are focused on hitting and we have plans in place to achieve them, our prior experience on the Model 3 ramp has demonstrated the difficulty of accurately forecasting specific production rates at specific points in time. What we can say with confidence is that we are taking many actions to systematically address bottlenecks and add capacity in places like the battery module line where we have experienced constraints, and these actions should result in our production rate significantly increasing during the rest of Q1 and through Q2.”

Here’s the final slash line for the company:

  • Q4 revenue: $3.29 billion, compared to $3.28 billion analyst estimates
  • Q4 earnings: Loss of $3.04 per share, compared to analyst estimates of a loss of $3.16 per share
  • Q4 Model S/X deliveries: 28,425 vehicles (up 28 percent compared to Q4 2016)
  • Q4 Model 3 deliveries: 1,542 vehicles
  • Total Q4 deliveries: 29,967 vehicles
  • Cash balance: $3.4 billion

Tesla also said it expects to begin generating positive quarterly operating income on a sustained basis “at some point in 2018,” and that its rate of revenue growth in 2018 is “poised to significantly exceed last year’s growth rate.”

That patience is going to continue to be critical if the company finds itself looking to raise additional capital as it tries to hit those targets. Tesla also said that despite delays, net reservations for the Model 3 remained stable. As Tesla starts rolling out plans for new vehicles and tries to ramp that up, reservations are a big part of that equation as a gauge for demand and how the company is going to continue to operate with its tremendous cash burn. That the stock hasn’t taken a significant hit (and is actually slightly up following the report) signals the limited red flags in the company’s report — which is going to be a challenging one as it’s in a heavy ramp phase.

Tesla has often been gauged on its production output as Wall Street looks for signs that it can deliver on the promise of ramping up production for its more mass-market electric vehicle, the Model 3. The company in January said it produced 2,425 Model 3 vehicles in the fourth quarter, and wants to make around 2,500 cars every week by the end of Q1 this year.