Elon Musk sends Tesla Roadster into orbit, and changes space travel

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Despite the competitive environment, Tesla's stock has soared 35 percent in the a year ago, making the company the second-most valuable US automaker, with a market capitalization of 45.5 billion euros, just behind General Motors Co, which had net revenue of $118.5 billion in 2017.

There are consensus estimates calling for a net loss of $2.39 per share on $3.6 billion in revenue for the first quarter. The adjusted loss eliminates one-time expenses, including stock-based compensation.

Musk is a masterful marketer, and the red ink may not stem investors' excitement.

Musk was referring to SpaceX's successful Falcon Heavy launch on Tuesday, which included a 2008 Tesla Roadster as its payload. Behind the wheel was "Starman", clad in the same space suit that astronauts will wear during SpaceX's Crew Dragon flights to the International Space Station.

Tesla noted that its non-GAAP automotive gross margin (which exclude stock compensation and ZEV credits) declined to 13.8%, marking a decline of over 8% from a year earlier and nearly 5% sequentially. Musk specified in the accompanying earnings call that he expected the company to be profitable by the more stringent Generally Accepted Accounting Principles this year. People want Tesla products, but Tesla can't stop spending more money than it has.

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Tesla also restated its Model 3 production goals as the company believes its weekly production rates will be 2,500 by the end of its first quarter. The Asteroid Belt sits between Mars and Jupiter. "It's just a matter of time", Musk said on a conference call with analysts. That line may sound familiar: Tesla claimed similar projections in early 2016, and while Tesla did indeed have its second-ever profitable quarter that year, the company resumed its loss-making habit shortly after. But it fell woefully short on the Model 3, which went into production in July.

But here on Earth, Tesla is still struggling to produce the Model 3, its first mass-market electric vehicle. Tesla also said reservations for the vehicle remain "stable" despite the delays, but it didn't give a total. The price tag is $250,000 and there's a waiting list to buy them.

"We tried to cancel the Falcon Heavy program three times because it was way harder than we thought", said Musk. The package requires Tesla, which is worth a little less than $60 billion now, to grow in $50 billion leaps to a staggering $650 billion market capitalization over the next decade. Musk added that a primary objective for Tesla is "productizing the Gigafactory". But Musk said Wednesday he has no plans to step aside as CEO. He said that once certain software was added, Hardware 2.0 would allow a auto to drive from Los Angeles to New York City without any human intervention, and that Tesla would prove it with a cross-country demonstration run in 2017.

"With its cash drain growing and production and gross margin visibility low, we consider Tesla a show-me story", wrote Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi Jr.in a note published Wednesday before the release of results.

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