While Tesla Motors' Model S is a piece of pristine, well-designed metal, the company's bonds have now been rated as "junk." But maybe that's better than the other way around. We'll let the investors decide.
Standard & Poor's gave Tesla's bonds a 'B-' rating this week, indicating so-called "junk status," Automotive News says. That means investors are saying the company has a relatively high chance of defaulting on its loans. S&P cites Tesla's short history, competition from some very large companies and relatively narrow product line (none of which are new facts), and estimates that investors would be able to recover 30 to 50 cents on the dollar should the company default.
Tesla has been issuing billions of dollars in bonds this year to raise funds for its planned gigafactory somewhere in the southwestern US, a project that Tesla estimated will cost $5 billion ($2 billion from Tesla, $3 billion from partners). Tesla said earlier this month that it took a first-quarter loss of $49.8 million, compared to year-earlier net income of $11.2 million. While revenue rose 10 percent to $620.5 million, selling and administrative costs more than doubled while research and development costs jumped 48 percent. And while Tesla's share price has doubled during the past 12 months (it's at around $209 today), the company's liabilities doubled to $3.52 billion from the beginning of the year to the end of the first quarter. There's a short video on the situation from CNN Money below.