A year after going public, Tesla Motors
But for most of 2011, shares have bounced around between $24 and $30, not really making a solid move one way or the other. With the Tesla IPO fever having passed, is it finally time for long-term investors to jump in?
Where Tesla stands now
Tesla Motors has always been about technology. The company's vehicles have a longer range than competitors and charge (relatively) quickly. That's why Toyota
Financially, Tesla is on shaky but improving ground. Second-quarter revenue more than doubled to $58 million, gross margins exceeded 30%, and deposits are strong for the Roadster and Model S. But the company still had a $0.60-per-share loss, losses are expected to mount through 2012, and no one knows whether the current stockpile of $319 million in cash will hold the company over.
Not giving up without a fight
Then there are those pesky competitors who don't appear to be rolling over. They may have even figured out how to make cars people want to buy! Who would have thought?
The 2012 Ford
Tesla is betting the farm
One of my biggest hesitations is the risk in Tesla's business plan. Elan Musk is basically betting the company's future on the Model S by phasing out the Roadster. Any slip-up in production, design, or marketing, and it could blow up in investors' faces.
I like where Tesla is positioned in the industry, growing sales and building a development business, but I wouldn't bet the farm on Tesla the way Musk is. A small step into the water is all I could make until we see whether Tesla can become a world-class manufacturer. If it can't, it will get run over by the competition.
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Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not own an electric car or any of the stocks mentioned here. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
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