Tesla announced solid quarterly financial performance on Monday, reflecting continued growth in sales and production around the world.
The electric car manufacturer achieved a profit of 39 cents per share in the first quarter. That was a significant increase from the 24 cents per share reported in the fourth quarter of 2020. A year ago, the company made just 2 cents a share in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic impacted sales and forced the closure of its facility in Fremont, Calif.
The quarterly profit of $ 438 million was the highest Tesla has ever made.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested further growth in the coming quarters, saying he believes the Model Y, the company’s small sport utility vehicle, would become one of the best-selling companies in the world. “There’s a lot to look forward to in 2021 and 2022,” he said on a conference call with analysts after the results were announced.
Like other automakers, Tesla is grappling with a chip shortage, “one of the toughest supply chain challenges we’ve ever faced,” Musk said. But he said the company could switch to chips that are easier to acquire.
Earlier this month, Tesla announced it had delivered a record 184,800 vehicles in the first three months of the year, more than twice as many as in the same period in 2020.
“Tesla continues to see growing pent-up demand across China and Europe,” wrote Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst, in a report to investors on Monday ahead of the announcement. In the United States, the Biden government’s drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions and support sales of electric vehicles should help keep demand for Tesla’s cars alive, Ives added.
Although Tesla stock has fallen from recent highs, it is more than five times as valuable as it was a year ago. The stock fell more than 2 percent after announcing expanded trading gains, apparently because some analysts’ results fell short of even higher expectations.
The winning news comes as Tesla has increasing questions about the safety of its autopilot driver assistance system. Two men were killed in Texas this month when the Tesla Model S they were driving in crashed into a tree on a residential street and went up in flames. Local police said one man was found in the passenger seat and the other in the back seat and that no one was on the steering wheel in the accident.
Speaking on Monday’s conference call, Tesla’s chief engineer, Lars Moravy, said Tesla examined the car with local and federal investigators and found that the steering wheel was deformed, suggesting someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the accident. All seat belts were loosened, he added. The autopilot is designed to release when the driver’s seat belt is released.
Tesla has also been scrutinized in China, where authorities have been scrutinizing consumer reports of battery fires and sudden acceleration from Tesla vehicles.
The company currently manufactures cars in Fremont and Shanghai. Its earnings report announced that it would begin production this year in factories in Austin, Texas, and in Germany near Berlin.
Tesla expects deliveries this year to increase by more than 50 percent from the 500,000 vehicles sold last year. Some analysts expect the year number to reach 850,000 or more.
The Austin plant is said to produce an angular, futuristic-looking pickup named Cybertruck and a battery-powered tractor-trailer. The Tesla Semi should go into production this year, the company said. There was no specific schedule for Cybertruck production.
Tesla said it generated $ 293 million in cash in the quarter, but its cash on hand decreased because $ 1.2 billion was used to purchase $ 1.5 billion in Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency. Another $ 1.2 billion was used to pay back debt and leases.