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Tesla Inc. lost a record $717 million in the second quarter of 2018, but the company said Wednesday it is heading toward a profit for the first time by the end of year as it slows its cash burn.

The $739.5 million in cash the automaker burned through in April through June was less than expected; analysts were expecting Tesla would spend about $900 million. It had gone through more than $1 billion in three of the previous four quarters.

Tesla stock soared 9.4 percent to nearly $330 per share in afterhours trading on the news.

"Our goal is to be profitable and cash-flow positive for every quarter going forward," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a call with investors Wednesday.

Despite posting a second straight quarter of record losses, Tesla said it is on track to deliver profitability by the end of 2018. 

"We're incredibly proud of the team for producing 7,000 Model 3, S and X in the last week of June," Musk said. "We continued to achieve 5,000 Model 3's per week multiple weeks in July, showing that we are able to do this on a sustained basis.

"At a pace of 7,000 cars of week, we can be sustainable profitable from Q3 on," Musk continued.

The loss reported by the automaker is a 213 percent increase over the figures Tesla posted during the same three-month period a year ago, when the company reported a loss of $336 million. It also is a worsening of the $706 million loss Tesla reported in the first quarter of 2018. Tesla has never reported a profit.

Analysts initially predicted Tesla would post a net loss of $629.9 million, according to FactSet. They predicted the company's revenue would rise by 43 percent to $3.99 billion.

Clement Thibault, senior analyst at Investing.com, said Tesla is still far from fulfilling its promises to mass-produce the Model 3 sedan, which the company has said is critical to efforts to become profitable. 

"With regards to the Model 3 manufacturing output, the letter's wording is highly ambiguous — 10K a week sometime next year leaves Tesla almost a year and a half to fulfill that 'promise,' while its way behind on its original (and revised) schedule," Thibault said.

"The slower cash-burn is welcome, but doesn't say much on its own," Thibault continued. "Tesla expects to be cash-flow positive in the next two quarters, and it would be some accomplishment if Tesla manages to turn green for good. However, with all the talk about a Chinese factory it isn't clear how capital expenditure can be kept down to allow Tesla to remain in the green for a prolonged period of time."

Tesla wants to build a new factory in Shanghai, its first outside of the U.S.

 klaing@detroitnews.com

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