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.
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,” Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst, wrote in a report to investors. 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 around 2 percent after the expanded trading gains were announced, apparently because the results did not meet the even higher expectations of some analysts.
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.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have dispatched teams to investigate the accident and determine whether the men relied on autopilot to drive the car. Representative Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas, has written to Elon Musk, Tesla’s executive director, asking him to work with security agencies.
A week ago, Mr Musk posted a message on Twitter that data from the car “so far” showed that autopilot was not activated.
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.