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USA: Tesla Motors fourth-quarter loss widens to $81.5 million as it prepares to launch all-electric Model S sedan

Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors (TSLA) on Wednesday announced fourth-quarter revenue of $39 million, up 9 percent from the same quarter a year ago, and full-year revenue of $204 million, up from $117 million in 2010.

But the company posted a wider loss of $81.5 million, or 69 cents a share, compared with a loss of $51.4 million, or 47 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts had been expecting a loss of 62 cents.

The losses were not unexpected as Tesla increased research and development spending, opened new showrooms, invested in equipment for the Tesla factory in Fremont and hired additional employees. Tesla says it remains on track to deliver the first all-electric Model S sedan in July and advised shareholders in a letter that net losses “will continue as planned until we reach volumes sales of Model S in 2013.”

Tesla expects its 2012 revenue will be from $550 million to $600 million, assuming that the company delivers 5,000 Model S sedans in the second half of the year. Tesla’s 2011 revenue was $204 million.

Many Wall Street and auto industry analysts remain bullish on the company, whose stock rose more than 1 percent in after-hours trading after closing at $33.60.

“Wall Street doesn’t mind losses, as long as it’s not a surprise,” said Andrea James, an

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