Tesla Inc. late Wednesday reported another record quarter of sales and profit, blowing past Wall Street estimates even though it said its factories continue to run below capacity due to supply-chain problems.
On a post-results call with investors, Chief Executive Elon Musk focused on some of the more futuristic endeavors for Tesla TSLA, -4.96%, such as promising a new “robotaxi” vehicle in two years, and kept mum about his proposal to buy Twitter Inc. TWTR, +1.21%.
Tesla said it earned $3.2 billion, or $2.86 a share, in the first quarter, compared with earnings of $438 million, or 39 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Adjusted for one-time items, the EV maker earned $3.22 a share.
Revenue rose 81% to $18.6 billion from $10.39 billion a year ago, thanks to higher average car prices and growth in vehicle sales, the company said.
Analysts polled by FactSet expected the company to report adjusted earnings of $2.26 a share on sales of $17.85 billion.
The stock rallied more than 5% after the results.
“I’ve never been more optimistic and excited in terms of the future than I am right now,” Musk said in the call. “We are obviously not demand-limited, we are production-limited — very much production-limited.”
Musk reiterated that Tesla is working on a new vehicle, which will be a “dedicated robotaxi” that would be “highly prioritized for autonomy,” with no steering wheel or pedals and “a number of other innovations,” he said.
A robotaxi ride would be significantly cheaper per mile than a regular car ride and “less than a bus ticket, a subsidized bus ticket or subsidized subway ticket,” Musk said.
Tesla will achieve volume production of the vehicle in 2024, Musk said. He declined to give more details about the robotaxi, saying Tesla likely will hold an event to highlight the new vehicle next year.
Tesla’s electric pickup, the Cybertruck, is on track for 2023, he said.
Tesla unexpectedly managed “an impressive increase in revenue” despite ongoing issues and “even Musk’s recent play for Twitter,” Alyssa Altman at consultancy Publicis Sapient said.
With the two newer factories in Berlin and Austin, Texas, “the company seems well positioned to compensate for reduced production capacity in the Far East due to the Shanghai lockdown,” Altman said.
“Tesla’s surprises are common,” but the way the company navigated inflationary pressures and supply-chain constraints was “impressive,” said Pedro Palandrani, an analyst at Global X. Palandrani highlighted auto gross margins at near 33%, up significantly from last year’s 27%.
In the call, Musk said that Tesla’s humanoid robot Optimus is a program that people don’t pay enough attention to.
“Optimus will be worth more than the car business and [Full Self Driving, Tesla’s suite of advanced driver-assistance systems], that’s my firm belief,” Musk said.
In its letter to investors accompanying results, Tesla vowed to release FSD “before the end of this year” to all U.S. customers. A beta version of the suite has been available to some owners.
Tesla said in the letter that supply-chain problems and raw-material prices costs that recently have increased “multiple-fold” continue to weigh.
Factories have been running below capacity “for several quarters as supply chain became the main limiting factor, which is likely to continue through the rest of 2022,” the company said.
Tesla said that a spike in COVID-19 cases ended in a temporary shutdown of the Shanghai factory and of parts of the company’s supply chain.
“Although limited production has recently restarted, we continue to monitor the situation closely,” the company said.
The ramp up in the newer factories also will depend on the supply-chain snags, Tesla said.
“Factory ramps take time, and Gigafactory Austin and Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg will be no different.”
Tesla stock has gained about 36% in the past 12 months, which compares with gains of about 8% for the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.06%.