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Why Tesla Motors, Inc. Stock Fell 7% Today

By Daniel Sparks - Jan 4, 2016 at 8:30PM

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3 reasons Tesla shares traded lower on Monday.

Tesla Motors' (TSLA -2.44%) biggest quarter of vehicle deliveries -- by far -- wasn't enough for the Street on Monday. Following the company's Sunday report that the electric-car maker delivered 17,400 vehicles, up from its previous quarterly record of 11,580, shares fell about 7% by the time the market closed.

Tesla store in China. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Here are three likely reasons for the stock's Monday sell-off.

1. An overall decline for the stock market.
Monday wasn't a great day for a lot of stocks. The S&P 500, which is an index of 500 large, publicly traded companies, ended Monday down 1.5%. Growth stocks were hit hard, in particular. Amazon.com, Netflix, Facebook, and Chipotle Mexican Grill all sold off more than 2.3%, with Chipotle getting hit the hardest of these four, dipping about 6.5%.

The overall pessimism on Monday toward stocks trails a sell-off in China, which appeared to be triggered by economic data on manufacturing in the country that was interpreted as a weak economic indicator.

Any disappointment toward Tesla on Monday, therefore, was likely negatively leveraged by the weak sentiment toward growth stocks.

2. Deliveries were at the low end of the guidance.
Some investors may have been expecting Tesla to post bigger delivery numbers this weekend than 17,400. The electric-car maker was guiding for 17,000 to 19,000 deliveries during Q4, with the low end of this range basically representing a quarter in which production of its recently launched Model X failed to ramp up, and the high end being one in which the company managed to work its way meaningfully along its exponential production ramp curve for the new vehicle.

Delivering just 208 Model X during the quarter, the company didn't get as far along with its Model X production ramp as its best-case scenario implied.

Model X.

It's also worth noting that 17,400 deliveries for the fourth quarter puts Tesla's total 2015 deliveries well below its original guidance for the year, which was 55,000. Tesla delivered close to 50,600 vehicles during the full year. To be fair, the company did adjust its guidance lower throughout the year, so the final quarter's deliveries were within Tesla's most recent guidance range of 50,000 to 52,000 vehicles.

Despite Tesla's deliveries at the low end of its guidance range, investors should note that Tesla's growth rates are actually accelerating as the company grows.

3. A Model S fire may have the Street on its toes.
Monday also happened to be the first trading day the market had to react to a recent Model S fire in Norway that occurred after an owner plugged his vehicle in to charge at Supercharger location.

The owner was not in the vehicle when the fire occurred and Tesla is currently investigating the fire. Tesla told The Motley Fool it will share its findings when the investigation is complete.

But given that Tesla's vehicles are arguably much safer when it comes to fires than their internal combustion engine counterparts, any negative reaction to this news in the stock market is more of an emotional response than a rational one.

Overall, there wasn't any news that should concern Tesla investors. While fires and lower-than-expected deliveries may be enough to worry the Street, there really aren't any underlying issues here that change any long-term thesis for the company.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Facebook, Netflix, and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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