Tesla Motors Inc Plunges After Weak China Sales Comments

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Tesla Motors shares took a nosedive this morning after CEO Elon Musk made comments referencing weak sales in China, the world’s largest auto market. It certainly appears as if the magical $200 floor that had been on Tesla stock for some time may be gone.

Tesla hits six-month low

Shares of Tesla dipped as low as $188 during regular trading hours today, falling as much as 7%. The stock hasn’t traded at that level since May 2014. The last time shares dipped under $200 was in December, but they only went to the $197 range and rallied almost immediately after. Tesla stock peaked in September at $291 a share.

Volume on Tesla shares also soared today, approaching 7 million shares by midday. The average daily volume is just 5.5 million shares.

Can Tesla live up to Wall Street’s expectations?

Perhaps the biggest problem Tesla has been dealing with over the years is simply living up to the high expectations Wall Street has set for it. The more targets the automaker beat, the higher those expectations got, and now, Tesla is finally beginning to get to the point where it’s only meeting them. The company may even miss a key target for 2014: Model S deliveries.

Business Insider‘s Matthew Debord points out that it seems likely Tesla will miss that metric when it releases its next earnings report in February. He adds that if the automaker does miss, it won’t be by much and it will probably be because of how Tesla recognizes its sales. The company takes deposits to reserve its cars but doesn’t record vehicles as being sold until it delivers them.

Tesla will begin to produce the Model X this year and has already taken orders for all of the Model X crossovers it plans to produce this year. This means overall sales are still going steady, meaning that a slight miss on deliveries doesn’t matter much to some investors.

Tesla reports weak sales in China

Tesla started to run into trouble with Model S deliveries in the third quarter, although it wasn’t too bad at that time. Then this week Musk told reporters that sales in China were weak during the fourth quarter. He dismissed the weakness, however, saying that it’s mostly a matter of educating Chinese consumers about their Supercharger infrastructure.

The CEO said they’ve fixed the issue, which he claimed was misconceptions about a lack of charging infrastructure. Tesla signed a deal with China Unicom last year to expand its charging network, adding 400 more stations in 120 different cities across China. Bidness Etc. reports that in addition to that deal, the automaker also signed deals with SOHO China and Yantai Holdings, both of which are real estate developers.

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