For only the third time in the company’s history, Tesla reported a quarterly net profit on Wednesday, though this time the automaker says it’s back in black for good.
Third-quarter GAAP net income was $312 million, Tesla revealed, with the company’s performance fulfilling CEO Elon Musk’s earlier promise to become cash-positive by Q3 2018. The automaker’s free cash flow was $881 million for the quarter.
Give thanks to the tent.
It was expanded production of the Model 3, some of which occurs outside the company’s Fremont, California assembly plant, that pushed Tesla over the top. The company reported gross margins of 20 percent on Model 3s sold in the third quarter, a higher figure than predicted, with the number of labor hours per Model 3 falling by 30 percent between the second and third quarter of this year.
While the average production rate of Model 3s continues to fall below Musk’s promised 5,000 vehicles per week figure, throughput was great enough to bring in the desired cash. And customers paid plenty â€” the introduction of a pricier dual-motor Model 3 this summer was the revenue generator Musk needed. Tesla reported $6.82 billion in total revenue for the quarter. Overall, some 5,300 Model 3s finished assembly in the final week of September, the company claims.
Tesla cites “logistical challenges” in the first part of the quarter, including problems in getting vehicles to buyers’ homes, but improved door-to-door delivery allegedly solved much of that.
In an earnings call that did not spark controversy, Musk claimed the company “can actually be cash flow positive and profitable in all quarters going forward,” minus those in which a debt payment comes due. The company has no plans to raise debt or equity, he said.
What the company does plan to do is move forward with production of the Model Y, a cheaper crossover that may be targeted at the company’s planned Shanghai assembly plant, which is slated to build Model 3s. That plant is expected to start humming in late 2019. The Model Y, of which Musk says he’s approved the final prototype, won’t arrive until 2020.
While Tesla plans to build the Shanghai plant in a “capital efficient” manner, suggesting a tent-like structure similar to the one at Fremont, getting the operation off the ground will nonetheless generate a hefty bill. Some analysts question Musk’s assertion that it won’t need to take on more debt. That said, actually turning a profit makes the prospect more palatable.
Tesla’s stock shot up nearly 13 percent in after-hours trading following the release of its quarterly earnings. After the antics of the past few months, this was news investors wanted to hear.
[Source: Reuters] [Image: Tesla]