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Tesla reports record deliveries, but numbers are still shy of analysts’ targets

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By Mike Murphy

Tesla Inc. reported record quarterly deliveries on Sunday, but the number still disappointed analysts.

Tesla said it produced over 365,000 vehicles in the just-completed third quarter, and made more than 343,000 deliveries. That was a significant rebound from the second quarter, when it reported nearly 259,000 vehicles built and 255,000 deliveries, with production stunted by Chinese factory shutdowns due to COVID-19 outbreaks in the spring.

Wall Street analysts expected more last quarter, though, forecasting about 371,000 deliveries, according to FactSet data.

Tesla shares /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -1.16% slumped 4.3% in premarket trade, to put them on track to open at the lowest price seen during regular-session hours since July 20.

Tesla shares have sunk about 25% year to date, roughly in line with the S&P 500’s /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.47% 2022 decline.

The 22,000-vehicle spread between production and deliveries was significantly higher than usual — it was about 4,000 the previous quarter. While such a large spread could potentially signal that production is outpacing demand, Tesla said the reason was because of a logistical crunch at the end of the quarter.

“As our production volumes continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly challenging to secure vehicle transportation capacity and at a reasonable cost during these peak logistics weeks,” the company said in a statement . “In Q3, we began transitioning to a more even regional mix of vehicle builds each week, which led to an increase in cars in transit at the end of the quarter.”

In a tweet Sunday, Chief Executive Elon Musk said he hoped for “steadier deliveries” this quarter.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives on Sunday took that explanation in stride.

“In a nutshell, this quarter was nothing to write home about and the Street will be disappointed by the softer deliveries. We view this more of a logistical speed bump rather than demand driven,” he said in a tweet.

Still, Tesla will need to significantly increase production in the current quarter in order to meet its annual growth target.

On Friday at its second annual A.I. Day , Tesla unveiled a prototype of a humanoid robot, called Optimus, that displayed finger dexterity. Musk said the robots, intended for industrial uses, would cost around $20,000 each and could hit the market in three to five years, though experts were skeptical.

The EV maker is expected to announce third-quarter quarter earnings Oct. 19.

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