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Tesla's new Model S sedan at Tesla headquarters in Palo alto, Calif. Friday, July 13, 2012. (Patrick Tehan/Staff)

Today: Electric carmaker comes under fire from Romney, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk says company's outlook is strong. Plus: Facebook hits 1-billion-user milestone, and Google (GOOG) settles lawsuit with book publishers.

CEO says Tesla's outlook is strong

Is Tesla really a loser?

That's what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during Wednesday night's presidential debate, lumping the Palo Alto electric carmaker in with Solyndra and Fisker as examples of wrongheaded federal investments in green industries. "You put $90 billion -- like 50 years' worth of breaks -- into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1," Romney said. "I mean, I had a friend who said, you don't just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers."

Fremont-based solar panel maker Solyndra defaulted on a $535 federal loan guarantee last year, car battery-maker Ener1 went bankrupt on a $118 million loan and Southern California electric car maker Fisker has had its $529 million federal loan guarantee frozen after a series of setbacks. Tesla, though, appears to be going strong.

Tesla has suffered from sluggish production of its new Model S sedan and recently downgraded its third-quarter revenue forecast, but CEO Elon Musk was quick to correct any misconceptions about how the company is faring. In a blog post written Wednesday before the debate, Musk denied Tesla was in financial trouble, and said the company expects a positive cash flow by the end of November and is on track to repay its $465 million federal loan guarantee.

"Tesla has never asked for or even hinted at postponing repayment of the loan," Musk wrote. He went on to say the Department of Energy "is highly bullish about our future," and "The DOE has simply asked if we would be willing to repay the loan early if we have excess cash. The answer is unequivocally yes and I am happy to announce that we will be initiating an advance payment today to prefund the principal payment that is due in March 2013."

Forbes columnist Todd Woody also jumped to Tesla's defense, noting Tesla appears to be on the right track and has created hundreds of American jobs. "In fact, Tesla and Musk, a self-made billionaire whose Space X startup is privatizing space travel, would seem to be poster children for the type of entrepreneurialism Romney says he seeks to unleash," Woody wrote.

Meanwhile, demand for the $60,000 Model S remains strong, with a backlog of about 13,000 orders, and as does Tesla's stock, which hovers around the $30 mark, well above its 2010 IPO price of $17. Tesla shares slipped in early trading but rallied in the afternoon after a statement from Barclays reaffirmed its confidence in the stock. Tesla ended the day up 10 cents, or 0.34 percent, to $29.40.

Facebook reaches milestone

Not everyone in the world is on Facebook. Just a billion of them.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday that the world's largest social network has surpassed 1 billion users a month, doubling its userbase over the past two years.

"If you're reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you," Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. "Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life."

Menlo Park-based Facebook hit that mark Sept. 14, according to a report in Bloomberg's Businessweek. Zuckerberg said the focus for the future will not be on the number of users, but rather how to tap into such a massive consumer base. "For the next five or 10 years the question isn't going to be, does Facebook get to 2 billion or 3 billion? I mean, that's obviously one question. But the bigger question is, what services can get built now that every company can assume they can get access to knowing who everyone's friends are. I think that's going to be really transformative," Zuckerberg said in the Businessweek interview.

One billion wasn't the only interesting number to emerge from the interview; Zuckerberg said Facebook has 600 million mobile users, and sees enormous growth potential there among the 5 billion mobile phone users worldwide. Facebook will also seek to increase the monetization of international customers; it currently makes $14 a year per each U.S. user, but just $3 a year from foreign users. With 81 percent of its users outside the U.S., that's a lot of money to potentially make.

In a separate interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Zuckerberg acknowledged the company has hit a rough patch since its IPO and subsequent stock drop. "Things go in cycles. We're obviously in a tough cycle now and that doesn't help morale," Zuckerberg said. The hoodie-wearing CEO defended himself against criticism that he lacks the chops to lead the company. "I take this responsibility that I have really seriously," he said.

And despite a rocky relationship between Facebook and Apple (AAPL) over the past couple of years, Zuckerberg praised the iPhone 5 and said he takes inspiration from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs: "We just want to stay maniacally focused on building the best product for those people and I think that's the path to building a great business and, you know, I think that's something that Steve understood more than most."

Facebook shares rose 12 cents, or 0.55 percent, to $21.95.

Google books lawsuits: One down, one to go

Google made headway Thursday in its effort to digitize every book and make them available online, settling a seven-year-old copyright battle with major book publishers. A larger stumbling block remains though, in the form of a similar lawsuit from book authors.

Under the settlement, publishers can now choose whether or not to allow their books to be digitally scanned, and can have them removed from Google's online library. Google had agreed to those terms in 2008, but that settlement unraveled after being rejected in federal court. Financial terms of the settlement were not revealed.

Experts say the settlement won't effect Google's practices much, if at all. "They had this lawsuit hanging around for years, and basically the publishers have all moved on. They are selling digitally now," New York Law School professor James Grimmelmann told the New York Times. "It means very little, because Google's been offering publishers the opportunity to sell books or not for years."

The larger issue remains the authors. "Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors' rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of U.S. authors continues," Authors Guild director Paul Aiken said in a statement Thursday.

The outcome in that case could be much more damaging to Google. The authors group is seeking $750 in damages for every book scanned, according to an Associated Press report. With 20 million books already scanned, Google could be held liable for billions of dollars in damages. The authors' case has been hovering in legal limbo for years, and an attorney for the group said he was "cautiously optimistic" that a settlement could still be worked out.

In other Google news, the Mountain View tech giant warned Thursday that further cuts will be needed at its Motorola Mobility unit. Job cuts will be broadened worldwide, but Google said it is not adding to the 4,000 layoffs announced in August. Google will also take on $390 million in severance and layoff-related costs.

Google shares rose $5.55, or 0.73 percent, to $768.05.

Silicon Valley tech stocks

Up: Google, Oracle (ORCL), HP, eBay (EBAY), Yahoo (YHOO), Juniper, Netflix (NFLX), Facebook, Zynga

Down: Apple, Intel (INTC), Cisco (CSCO), Gilead

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 14.23 , or 0.45 percent, to 3,149.46.

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 80.75 or 0.60 percent, to 13.575.36.

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up10.41, or 0.72 percent, to 1,461.40.

Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Follow Mike Murphy on Twitter at twitter.com/mmmmurf.