DETROIT (AP) — Electric car maker Tesla's first-quarter loss widened 17 percent to $330 million as it ramped up spending ahead of the launch of its Model 3 sedan and its solar panel business.
The loss equaled $2.04 per share, compared to a loss of 78 cents a year ago. Excluding one-time items, Tesla reported a loss of $1.33 per share, which was bigger than Wall Street expected. Analysts polled by FactSet forecast a loss of $1.23 per share.
Revenue more than doubled to $2.7 billion from $1.15 billion as Tesla delivered more vehicles in the quarter.
Tesla said it remains on track to start production of the Model 3 in July. The company's desire to move beyond its current position as a niche maker of luxury cars largely rests on the Model 3. The lower-cost model, which will start around $35,000, is set to go on sale later this year. Tesla said it is preparing its factory in Fremont, California, to produce 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week sometime before the end of 2017 and 10,000 per week at some point in 2018.
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla is also expanding its network of stores and charging stations to meet anticipated demand. Tesla said it plans to open 100 retail and service locations worldwide this year, including its first stores in Dubai and South Korea. It also plans to double the number of fast-charging Supercharger stations to 10,000.
Tesla shares fell less than 1 percent to $308.60 in after-hours trading. The shares have been on a tear since last month, when Tesla announced its first quarter production and deliveries. Tesla said it delivered 25,000 vehicles in the first quarter, up 69 percent over the January-March period a year ago. The deliveries were about evenly split between the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The company said it expects to deliver 47,000 to 50,000 vehicles in the first half of this year.
With a total market value of $50.6 billion, 14-year-old Tesla currently has a higher value than General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. But that value is largely based on future promise, not current reality. Tesla has never made a full-year profit.
Barclay's analyst Brian Johnson calls Tesla a "cult stock" and has set a price target of $165.
"The stock seems so disconnected from any form of fundamentals, and right now is purely driven by momentum - making earnings less relevant," he said in a note to investors.
Tesla, which acquired solar panel maker SolarCity late last year, also said it will begin pilot manufacturing of solar roof tiles in Fremont in the second quarter. Shortly after that, manufacturing will move to an existing SolarCity factory in Buffalo, New York.
This story has been corrected to show that Tesla's first-quarter loss widened by 17 percent, not more than doubled from a year ago.