S&P slaps junk bond rating on Tesla debt

Tesla Motors is loved by auto critics, customers and investors. But it got a rare negative review when Standard & Poor’s rated its debt as junk bonds.

S&P said late Tuesday that the electric car company’s $2.2 billion in debt, due over the course of the next four to seven years, is a risky bet.

Its reasoning: “Tesla’s narrow product focus, concentrated production footprint, small scale relative to its larger automotive peers, limited visibility on the long-term demand for its products, and limited track record in handling execution risks.”

Tesla spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the rating.

Tesla shares are up more than 40% this year, although they are off 20% from a record high in February.

Shares tumbled 11% the day after after the company reported improved sales but lower earnings for the first quarter. The stock has recaptured that lost ground since then.

CEO Elon Musk has announced plans for the company to raise $1.6 billion to build a huge new lithium battery plant, known as the Gigafactory.

The facility will be the key to the company’s plans to produce a mass-market electric car.

Right now Tesla’s only car is the Model S, a well-reviewed car with a price starting at about $69,000.

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