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Ending tough week, Tesla shares sink to lowest level in two years

Ending tough week, Tesla shares sink to lowest level in two years
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Tesla is seen in Taipei, Taiwan August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo -
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Tyrone Siu(Reuters)
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tesla Inc's stock slumped over 5% on Friday to its lowest price in two years, rounding out a rough week that included worse-than-expected quarterly results and a pitch by Chief Executive Elon Musk on autonomous cars that failed to win over investors.

With investors betting Tesla will soon raise capital, the stock has fallen 14.1% for the week to its lowest level since January 2017, before the launch of the Model 3 sedan aimed at making the electric car maker profitable.

If Tesla closes at its current price of $234.90, its drop for the week will be its worst since June 2016, when Tesla offered to buy SolarCity in a $2.8 billion deal Musk described as a "no brainer."

In the options market, Tesla contracts changed hands at twice the usual pace, with trading volume set to hit a seven-month high of 712,000 contracts by the end of the session, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert. Trading sentiment leaned toward defensive bets, data showed.

Tesla’s $1.8 billion (1.4 billion pounds) junk bond sank half a cent to yield 8.42%, more than 3 percentage points above the bond’s coupon rate of 5.3%. Its spread, or the premium investors demand for the added risk of holding Tesla debt rather than a safer U.S. Treasury security, widened by about 15 basis points to a near-record 611 basis points.

One positive development for Tesla: a U.S. District Court judge on Friday granted a request by Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission for a second extension to resolve a dispute over Musk's use of Twitter.

On Wednesday, Tesla posted a worse-than-expected loss of $702 million for the March quarter. Musk said Tesla would return to profit in the third quarter and that there was "some merit" to raising capital.

Musk is still battling to convince investors that demand for the Model 3, the company's first car aimed at the mass consumer market, is "insanely" high, and that it can be delivered efficiently to customers around the world.

Tesla ended its first quarter with $2.2 billion, down from $3.7 billion in the prior quarter, and the company is planning expansions including a Shanghai factory, an upcoming Model Y SUV, and other projects.

For a graphic on Tesla's cash, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/2DyJjX6

On Monday, Musk hosted a self-driving event, where he predicted Tesla would have over a million autonomous vehicles by next year. Some analysts perceived the presentation as a way to deflect attention from questions about demand, margin pressure, increasing competition and even Musk's ongoing battle with U.S. regulators.

Tesla's stock has now fallen 29 percent in 2019 and the company's market capitalization has declined to $41 billion from $63 billion in mid-December.

For a graphic on Tesla's declining market cap, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Dwd62r

Tesla's stock has fallen below the level of its most recent capital raises.

For a graphic of Tesla's capital raises, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/2DAsQS2

Analysts now expect Tesla's revenue to expand 19% in 2019, compared with 83% growth in 2018 and 68% growth in 2017, according to Refinitiv.

Following Tesla's quarterly report, 12 analysts recommend selling the stock, while 11 recommend buying and eight are neutral. The median analyst price target is $275, up 17% from the stock's current price. Berenberg analyst Alexander Haissl has the most optimistic price target, at $500, while Cowen and Company's Jeffrey Osborne has the lowest, at $160, according to Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich, additional reporting by Saqib Ahmed in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chizu Nomiyama)

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