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Electric car company Tesla posts big loss

Electric car company Tesla Motors Inc. said Tuesday that its loss widened in the third quarter compared to the same period a year earlier. Tesla

Palo Alto-based Tesla, which this year became the first U.S. automaker to float an initial public stock offering since Ford Motor Co. in 1956, said its loss grew to $34.9 million from $4.6 million a year earlier.

But because of its wider stock distribution since going public, the loss per share narrowed to 38 cents from 66 cents, Tesla said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company now has more than 92 million shares outstanding compared with 7.6 million in the third quarter of 2009.

Revenue fell to $31.2 million from $45.5 million.

Tesla officials said the company is making progress compared with the second quarter of this year. Revenue is up 10% from the prior quarter and the net loss also narrowed from $38.5 million.  

“We are very pleased to report steady top-line growth and significant growth in gross margin, driven by the continued improvement in Roadster orders and our growing powertrain business,” said Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive.

He said sales of the company’s Roadster sports car were the best since the third quarter of 2008. The company also is moving forward preparing a former Toyota factory in Fremont, Calif., for production of Tesla’s planned Model S electric sedan. The sedan goes on sale in 2012.

Musk also noted that the Tesla has collected several high-profile investments and development contracts in recent months. It is working with Toyota Motor Corp. to develop the powertrain for an electric version of the RAV4 suv. Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp. also invested $30 million in Tesla recently. 

Prior to disclosing earnings, Tesla shares fell 35 cents to $24.63.  The company went public in June at $17 a share.

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-- Jerry Hirsch
Twitter.com/LATimesJerry 

Photo: The Tesla Model S prototype at the automaker's headquarters.

Credit: Jerry Hirsch/The Los Angeles Times

 
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