No Gas Needed: Tesla Shares Accelerate on First Profitable Quarter in Company’s History

Andrew Klips  |

After eking ahead by about one-half of a percent in regular trading on Wednesday, shares of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) have taken-off in extended trading after the electric car maker posted earnings that crushed analyst predictions for the first quarter, mixing additive to the fuel that has already seen the stock printing all-time highs recently. Wait, we’re talking electric cars, perhaps a better phrase would be putting some more charge to the battery.

The company, which has delivered nearly 10,000 electric vehicles in its 10-year history to customers in 31 countries, posted its first profit ever for a quarter.

Revenue during the first quarter for the Palo Alto, California-based company was a record $561.8 million, up 83 percent from $306.3 million in the year prior quarter. Net income on a GAAP basis totaled $11.4 million, or 10 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $89.9 million, or 79 cents per share in the first quarter of 2012. On an adjusted basis, which excludes non-cash warrant and stock option items, profits tallied $15.4 million, or 12 cents per share, versus a net loss of $74.6 million, or 65 cents per share in last year’s quarter.

The profits cruised past Wall Street predictions of 3 cents per share.

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The earnings press release was delivered in true fashion of chief executive and chairman Elon Musk, lacking no sense of confidence. Gross profit more than doubled from 8 percent last year to 17 percent. The company reaffirmed its guidance of gross margin of 25 percent in the fourth quarter, assuming zero ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credit revenue.

Musk recently promised that the resale value of any of Tesla’s Model S luxury sedan to be the highest of any car in its class and said he will personally pay the difference for any car sold through Tesla’s financing program that falls short of cars resold by Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, Audi or Jaguar. Tesla guarantees their cars to be worth 50 percent of their value in three years, although the figure could possibly be adjusted based on resale value of those other premium brands.

Raw material costs dropped 26 percent while production rose nearly 80 percent.

Tesla delivered 4,900 vehicles in the latest quarter and produced more than 5,000 Model S vehicles during the quarter. Tesla originally guided 4,500 vehicles would be sold in the quarter. The company noted that they dot their I’s and cross their t’s in their accounting before counting a car as sold, saying, “we did not recognize the revenue if the paperwork was not correct.”

The company expects global demand for their cars to exceed 30,000 units per year, including 15,000 vehicles in the United States. For all of 2013, Tesla guided that it will meet their target of 20,000 worldwide deliveries and said that they are even comfortable raising that number to 21,000.

Shares of TSLA are ahead by about 65 percent so far in 2013 as the closing bell on Wednesday when shares printed $55.79. The earnings report has sent share flying to new record highs near $70 each for gains of more than 25 percent.

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