Record sales push Tesla to 2nd straight quarterly profit


(Photo: AP)

Record electric vehicle sales in the fourth quarter helped to push Tesla Inc. to its second-straight quarterly profit, giving bullish investors optimism that sustained black ink lies ahead.

The Palo Alto, California, company said it made a net profit of $105 million from October through December, or 58 cents per share but still posted an annual loss of $862 million.

The fourth-quarter earnings almost certainly will continue Tesla’s meteoric stock appreciation. Shares rose about 12 % in after-hours trading Wednesday to $648.

The company said in its quarterly investor letter that it expects to “comfortably” exceed production of 500,000 vehicles at its factories in Fremont, California, and Shanghai.

It expects net profits going forward, with possible some possible exceptions at times surrounding the launch of new products.

“We continue to believe our business has grown to the point of being self-funding,” the investor letter said.

Tesla said the production ramp-up of the Model Y SUV, a key product for the company, has started ahead of schedule in Fremont. Model Y production in Shanghai will start in 2021. The company also said it plans to start producing limited numbers of its electric semi truck this year.

Tesla shares have more than tripled in value since May of last year, pushing the company’s market value above giant German automaker Volkswagen as well as the combined values of General Motors and Ford.

The electric vehicle and solar panel maker’s fourth-quarter revenue grew 2% to $7.38 billion as Tesla delivered about 112,000 vehicles during the period and a record 367,500 for the full year.

Fourth-quarter revenue figures beat Wall Street estimates of $6.99 billion, but net income fell short of the $152.4 million expected by analysts polled by FactSet.