Tesla beat analysts’ estimates for first-quarter revenue on Wednesday and posted its third straight quarterly profit, as the electric carmaker recorded a solid number of deliveries during the period despite disruptions due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Shares of the company were up nearly 2% at $813.77 in extended trade.
The US response to the coronavirus did not seem to take a major toll on Tesla earnings, despite concern from its chief executive officer, Elon Musk.
On Tuesday night, he sent a series of erratic tweets calling on the government to relax social distancing restrictions, sharing articles and praising examples of places relaxing their orders. “FREE AMERICA NOW,” one tweet read.
His tweets came as the San Francisco Bay Area, where Tesla is headquartered, announced an extension of its shelter-in-place order from 4 March until at least the end of May.
Musk has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of coronavirus and spread misinformation regarding the pandemic to his 33.4 million Twitter followers over the last several months. He has tweeted that children are “essentially immune” to coronavirus, which is not true, and said on 19 March that there would be “close to zero new cases” in the US “by end of April”, which has also not proven to be true.
The Tesla executive also dragged his feet on shutting down the Tesla factory amid a shelter-in-place order issued by Bay Area officials on 17 March designed to shutter “non-essential” businesses. Finally he ceased manufacturing at the factory on 23 March.
The pandemic has disrupted demand for cars, with automakers being forced to shut shop and furlough workers, fueling uncertainty over when supply chains will return back to normal once lockdowns are eased.
“Due to the wide range of potential outcomes, near-term guidance of net income and free cash flow would likely be inaccurate,” Tesla said in a statement. “We will again revisit our 2020 guidance in our Q2 update.”
The electric carmaker also expects production of its Model Y in Fremont, California, and Model 3 in Shanghai will continue to ramp gradually through the second quarter.
The company said it will shift its first deliveries of the Tesla semi model, which was previously expected to ship this year, to 2021.
Earlier this month, Tesla said production and deliveries of its Model Y sports utility vehicle was significantly ahead of schedule, as it delivered the highest number of vehicles in any first quarter to date, despite the outbreak.
Revenue rose to $5.99bn from $4.54bn during the same quarter last year. Analysts had expected revenue of $5.9bn for the latest quarter, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Tesla reported a profit during the quarter of $16m, its third consecutive quarter of profitability.
Despite a better-than-expected earnings report, the reaction from Tesla’s stocks was relatively muted, said Kim Khan, a US markets analyst at Investing.com, as investors brace for global economic fallout from the pandemic.
“They’re now up further, but hovered around a postmarket gain of less than 2% for a while after the numbers came out,” Khan said. “There’s some hesitancy about how much more room there is to run for the stock, even with strong results.”