Tesla Motors stock soars after company announces increase in Model S production

PALO ALTO — Tesla Motors announced Wednesday that it delivered 22,477 Model S sedans in 2013 but expects to deliver more than 35,000 cars this year, sending the stock soaring more than 12 percent in after-hours trading.

Tesla also said more information about its planned battery “gigafactory,” which it says will reduce the cost of its battery packs, will be disclosed next week

“We’ll have more than one partner in the gigafactory,” CEO Elon Musk said during a conference call with analysts, adding that the factory would be powered largely by renewable energy.

Tesla is now making 600 cars a week at its Fremont factory but plans to ramp up production to 1,000 cars a week by the end of the year.

“We plan to expand production capacity for Model S and Model X, invest in our store, service and Supercharger infrastructure, complete the development of Model X and start early design work on our third-generation car,” Musk and CFO Deepak Ahujua said in a letter to shareholders.

Tesla has previously said deliveries of the Model X — an SUV-style offering — would begin by the end of 2014. But the shareholder letter said volume deliveries to customers will get underway in spring 2015.

Tesla met its target of 25 percent gross margins in the fourth quarter and earned 33 cents a share, after accounting for one-time charges, on revenue of $615 million.

“They beat on unit guidance and margins,” said Andrea James of Dougherty & Co. “Global demand is accelerating. Tesla is doing everything it should be doing, and doing it well. No wonder the stock’s up in the aftermarket.”

The company did not break down sales of the Model S by geography, but said demand from Europe and China is strong. The recently opened Beijing store is now Tesla’s most active retail location.

“We won’t be able to satisfy demand in China,” said Musk, who predicted that Tesla’s overseas sales this year could double its U.S. sales.

Last weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle, citing an unnamed source, reported that Adrian Perica, Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, met with Musk last spring. Tesla has declined to comment on the story, but speculation of an Apple-Tesla collaboration sent Tesla’s stock up to a closing price higher than $200 for the first time Tuesday.

Shares dipped nearly 5 percent to close at $193.64 Wednesday, but shot to $217 in late action following the earnings report’s release. Tesla’s all-time intraday high of $206 was hit Tuesday.

Tesla has recovered from widespread media coverage of three Model S cars catching fire after collisions. Musk credited the Internet and social media with helping consumers feel confident in the vehicle.

“At first we saw a significant drop in demand, and we were quite worried about it,” Musk said in the call. “I think it’s great that we live in an era where there’s the Internet and social media, so that when the flames are fanned by the media, there’s at least a path for consumers to understand what is really going on.”