Tesla revenue growth misses estimates but earnings top projections

Dana Hull

Tesla Inc. reported revenue that fell short of Wall Street estimates, but managed to beat third-quarter earnings projections despite a semiconductor shortage and supply-chain challenges that have stymied competing automakers.

Sales at Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle and clean-energy company rose 57% to $13.8 billion, missing estimates of $13.9 billion. Earnings came to $1.86 a share on an adjusted basis, the Palo Alto, California-based automaker said Wednesday. That beat the $1.67 a share average of analysts’ estimates. The results mark the ninth straight quarter of profit for the 18-year-old electric carmaker.

The company’s automotive gross margin, a key gauge of profitability, widened to 28.8% in the latest quarter, up from 27.7% a year earlier. 

Shares of Tesla fell as much as 1.5% to $853 in aftermarket trading. They were little changed at $865.80 at the close of regular trading in New York. 

“The stock is zig-zagging because this was expected,” Gene Munster of Loup Ventures said of the strong gross margins, which came to 28.8% excluding regulatory credits. “But they are making a lot of progress when it comes to profitability.”

Tesla is expanding on three continents and is nearing completion of new factories in Austin, Texas, and Berlin.  At its shareholder meeting earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer and top shareholder Musk said his company will move its corporate headquarters to Austin, without giving a date. 

Tesla delivered 241,300 cars worldwide in the third quarter, a record for the company. Tesla makes the Model S, X, 3 and Y at its factory in Fremont, California, and the Model 3 and Y at its plant in Shanghai. More than 96% of sales in the quarter were the Model 3 and Y. 

Revenue from regulatory credits came to $279 million, down from $354 million three months earlier. The company also reported a $51 million Bitcoin impairment.