Tesla posts 3rd straight quarterly profit as EV credit income jumps

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Tesla Inc. on Wednesday reported first-quarter net income of $16 million — its third-consecutive quarterly profit — even as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered its assembly plants in the U.S. and China.

The electric vehicle maker was aided by $354 million in regulatory credits sold to competitors, a 64 percent jump from the same period a year ago and 166 percent more than last quarter.

Total revenue in the quarter rose 32 percent year over year to $6 billion, with automotive revenue rising 38 percent to $5.1 billion.

“Q1 2020 was the first time in our history that we achieved a positive GAAP net income in the seasonally weak first quarter,” the automaker said in a statement. “Despite global operational challenges, we were able to achieve our best first quarter for both production and deliveries.”

The $16 million in net income compares with a $702 million loss in the first quarter of 2019.

Tesla delivered 88,496 vehicles in the quarter, up 40 percent over the same period a year ago. Deliveries of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover totaled 76,266, 50 percent more than the 50,928 Model 3s delivered a year ago. Model Y deliveries began in mid-March.

Tesla said it had $8.1 billion in cash at the end of the quarter after a $2.3 billion capital raise. It posted negative quarterly free cash flow of $895 million.

The automaker declined to provide guidance for the year, saying “it is difficult to predict how quickly vehicle manufacturing and its global supply chain will return to prior levels. Due to the wide range of potential outcomes, near-term guidance of net income and free cash flow would likely be inaccurate.”

Tesla shares surged 8.5 percent to $868.23 in after-hours trading on Wall Street.

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Saurabh Shukla

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