Tesla offers Wall Street mixed earnings bag, but outlook is brighter

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Tesla Inc. late Wednesday reported mixed quarterly results, with revenue slightly below Wall Street expectations, but injected some optimism in its production outlook for 2023 and promised to rein in costs faster.

“The Tesla team is used to challenges,” company executives said in a letter to shareholders. “In any scenario, we are prepared for short-term uncertainty.”

The EV maker also appeared to be responding to critics of its recent price cuts, saying that although the average selling price of its cars has fallen, margins consistently have improved.

The company also said a “next generation” vehicle platform is in the wings, promising more details at its investor day on March 1.

Tesla earned $3.69 billion, or $1.07 a share, in the quarter, compared with $2.3 billion, or 68 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted for one-time items, Tesla earned $1.19 a share.

Revenue jumped 37% to $24.32 billion, from $17.7 billion a year ago. The company said both the quarterly revenue and profit were records.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected the EV maker to report adjusted earnings of $1.13 on revenue of $24.67 billion.

As for its outlook, Tesla kept more or less intact the same language it has kept for several past quarters, with a crucial difference.

Tesla said it plans to grow its manufacturing capacity “as quickly as possible,” about 50% average annual growth over a “multi-year horizon” in deliveries.

For 2023, however, it expected to “remain ahead” of that long-term goal and reach 1.8 million vehicles a year. The EV maker produced 1.37 million vehicles in 2022, up 47% from 2021 production.

Growth of 50% this year on top of 1.37 million would be about 2 million vehicles produced, but Tesla did not make clear in the letter which numbers investors should expect.

The company is slated to hold a conference call at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

Tesla’s bitcoin holdings were unchanged.

Tesla said was producing 3,000 Model Y compact SUVs a week at its Austin, Texas, factory by the end of its fourth quarter, and tooling at the Texas factory for the Cybertruck, an all-electric pickup, has started. The truck is on schedule for sales later this year, the company added.

Tesla shares have lost 53% in the last 12 months, compared with losses of 8% for the S&P 500 index

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