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Tesla posts record net income of $438 million, revenue surges by 74%

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures as he arrives to visit the construction site of the future US electric car giant Tesla, on September 03, 2020 in Gruenheide near Berlin.

Odd Andersen | AFP | Getty Images

Tesla reported first-quarter results after the bell on Monday. The company beat expectations handily, buoyed by sales of bitcoin and regulatory credits, but the stock dipped as much as 3% after hours as investors digested the numbers.

Here’s how the company fared in the quarter, compared with analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings: 93 cents per share vs. 79 cents per share expected
  • Revenue: $10.39 billion vs. $10.29 billion expected, up 74% from a year ago

Net profit reached a quarterly record of $438 million on a GAAP basis, and the company recorded $518 million in revenue from sales of regulatory credits during the period. It also recorded a $101 million positive impact from sales of bitcoin during the quarter.

CEO Elon Musk’s electric vehicle business reported in the first quarter vehicle deliveries of 184,800 Model 3 and Model Y cars, beating expectations and setting a record for Tesla. However, the company also said it produced none of its higher-end Model S sedans or Model X SUVs for the period ending March. It delivered 2,020 older Model S sedans and Model X SUVs from inventory.

The company said Monday it expects more than 50% vehicle delivery growth in 2021, which implies minimum deliveries around 750,000 vehicles this year.

The fact Tesla grew vehicle unit sales by more than 100% year over year but grew service centers by only 28% and its mobile service fleet by only 22% explains why some Tesla customers face frustratingly long wait times for repairs. Service expansion is not keeping pace with the volume of vehicles sold.

Tesla said it has weathered chip shortages that have plagued the auto industry in part by “pivoting extremely quickly to new microcontrollers, while simultaneously developing firmware for new chips made by new suppliers.” It did not disclose the names of its new suppliers.

It also reiterated Musk’s frequent claim that cameras, not radar, are a better path toward autonomous vehicles. “Our AI-based software architecture has been increasingly reliant on cameras, to the point where radar is becoming unnecessary earlier than expected. As a result, our FSD [Full Self-Driving] team is fully focused on evolving to a vision-based autonomous system and we are nearly ready to switch the US market to Tesla Vision,” the company said in its earnings release.

Revenue for its energy generation and storage business nearly doubled for Tesla versus the same period in 2020, when Musk said Covid, then an emerging pandemic, had slowed its energy business to a crawl. But energy revenue declined from $787 million in the fourth quarter to $595 million in the first quarter of 2021.

The company revealed in February it purchased $1.5 billion in bitcoin and would potentially invest in other cryptocurrencies in the future. By April, bitcoin rose to record levels before pulling back. In its statement of cash flows, Tesla revealed that it had sold $272 million worth of “digital assets,” presumably bitcoin, during the quarter.

Tesla said last month that Jerome Guillen, its former president of automotive, would be moving into the role of president of heavy trucking. It’s not clear who — if anyone — has replaced Guillen, but personnel updates could come during the earnings call after the bell.

This is developing news; please check back for updates.


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