Tesla posts $438m Q1 profit on electric vehicle sales

28 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

DETROIT: Charged up by strong sales of its electric cars and SUVs, Tesla on Monday (Apr 26) posted its seventh-straight profitable quarter.

The company made US$438 million in the three-month period that ended Mar 31, as sales more than doubled the same period last year to nearly 185,000 vehicles, report agencies.

Tesla said adjusted net income, excluding stock-based compensation, passed US$1 billion for the first time in company history.

The company also said that there is evidence that a person was behind the wheel of a Tesla that crashed in Texas earlier this month, killing two men. But authorities near Houston said investigators are sure that no one was driving the car when it missed a curve, hit a tree and went off the road.

The Apr 17 crash near Houston has brought renewed scrutiny of Tesla and its Autopilot partially automated driving system. Two federal agencies are joining local authorities in investigating.

Excluding stock-based compensation and non-recurring items, Tesla made 93 cents per share. That beat Wall Street estimates of 75 cents per share, according analysts polled by data provider FactSet. First-quarter revenue rose 74 per cent to US$10.39 billion, but it was just shy of the US$10.48 billion expected by analysts.

Once again the company needed regulatory credits purchased by other automakers in order to make a profit. Without US$518 million in credits for the quarter, Tesla would have lost money. Other automakers buy the credits when they can’t meet emissions and fuel economy standards.

The company, which also makes solar panels and batteries, made only US$16 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Tesla, which now has the sixth-largest market value of all companies in the S&P 500 at US$708.56 billion, saw its shares fall about 2.5 per cent in extended trading Monday. The company released numbers just after the markets closed.

Tesla said its cash position fell by US$2.24 billion in the quarter to US$17.14 billion, due mainly to bitcoin purchases and US$1.2 billion in debt and finance lease payments. That was offset by US$293 million in free cash flow, which is operating cash flow minus capital expenditures.

The company said it sold about 10 per cent of its US$1.5 billion bitcoin stake, making about US$101 million. Tesla said it has sufficient liquidity to fund its new products and factory growth.

CEO Elon Musk got US$299 million during the quarter for hitting market value and operational milestones, the company said.

Tesla said that over a “multi-year horizon,” it expects vehicle deliveries to grow on average by 50 per cent per year, with some years, like 2021, growing faster than others.

“The rate of growth will depend on our equipment capacity, operational efficiency and capacity, and stability of the supply chain,” the company said in its quarterly letter to investors.

Factories in Berlin and Austin, Texas, are on track to start producing this year, and the company said production of its Semi will start in 2021. Also, first deliveries of the new Model S should start shortly, Musk said.