Tesla cuts prices as 4Q deliveries miss analysts' estimates

Investor's Corner					Wall St. firm maintains Tesla $500 price target citing Model 3 gross margin surprise

But that was little improvement on its previous rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week.

Tesla shares fell 9 percent on Wednesday after the electric auto maker delivered fewer-than-expected Model 3 sedans in the fourth quarter and cut prices for all its vehicles in the United States to offset a reduction in a green tax credit.

Nicholas Hyett, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: 'For most automotive groups these would be very impressive numbers. It suggests customers are perhaps a bit more price-sensitive than you might have thought'.

The company said it would begin delivering Model 3s to Europe and China in February.

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Tesla said it delivered 90,700 vehicles in the three months to December.

Ahead of the price cut announcement, chief executive Elon Musk urged Tesla customers to make use of federal tax credits.

Since Tuesday the relief has been halved and will be halved every six months until it disappears. In Q4 2018, Tesla produced a total of 86,555 vehicles, which is 8% more than its prior all-time-high in the third quarter. With the adjustments in place, the reduction of the $7,500 federal tax credit to just $3,750 would likely not weigh down customers as much. The company said it delivered 13,500 Model S vehicles and 14,050 of its Model X.

The company says it produced almost 87,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, also 8 per cent above its previous quarterly record set in the third quarter.

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The company now is moving into an important phase of its business and will have to decide whether to cut production to match what appears to be waning demand, or discount its vehicles to stimulate sales like other automakers do, Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey said.

The Palo Alto, California, company's 2018 sales included nearly 146,000 Model 3 lower-priced cars and another 99,000 of the more expensive Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The company tracks 22 analysts that forecast an average of 91,046 deliveries during the quarter, according to data compiled by Tesla. Despite the increase, shareholders felt a certain unsteadiness as stock prices declined and investors expressed their disappointment over failed expectations to close out the year.

Ives added that Tesla shares are "hypersensitive to any issue around Model 3" and that it will remain a stock that is "guilty until proven innocent" until it discloses quarterly earnings figures next year.

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