Tesla Q3 profit more than quadruples on record deliveries despite chip crunch

Tesla also delivered a record 241,391 vehicles during the period, with sales significantly ramping up in North America and China. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Tesla's third-quarter profit more than quadrupled on sharply higher sales despite a global semiconductor shortage that has plagued the auto industry, according to results released on Wednesday (Oct 20).

Billionaire Elon Musk's electric car company posted a record profit of US$1.6 billion (S$2.1 billion) for the three-month period, as revenues surged 57 per cent to US$13.8 billion compared with the year-ago period.

Tesla also delivered a record 241,391 vehicles during the period, with sales significantly ramping up in North America and China.

The results suggest that Tesla's output has been less affected by the global shortage of semiconductors than some rival carmakers that have shuttered factories or cut production.

However, the company said chip shortages, as well as congestion at ports and rolling blackouts, have been impacting its "ability to keep factories running at full speed".

"We believe our supply chain, engineering and production teams have been dealing with these global challenges with ingenuity, agility and flexibility that are unparalleled in the automotive industry," Tesla said in its news release.

Tesla notched somewhat lower revenues on the sale of electric vehicle regulatory credits to other automakers compared with the year-ago period. The company also reported a US$51 million impairment related to Bitcoin.

But profit margins expanded, even as the company alluded to uncertainties amid the lingering supply chain challenges.

"We continue to run our production lines as close to full capacity as conditions allow," Tesla said in the news release. "While sequential growth remains our goal, the magnitude of growth will be determined largely by outside factors."

New capacity

The electric carmaker said new factories in Germany and the US state of Texas remain on track.

Mr Musk was present earlier this month at the unveiling of Tesla's "gigafactory" near Berlin, its first European plant, which is expected to ultimately produce some 500,000 cars a year.

The nearly completed facility has been criticised by some non-governmental organisations in Germany, but Tesla said in Wednesday's press release that it expects to receive final permit approval by the end of the year.

Another gigafactory in Austin, Texas, is "progressing as planned", Tesla said. Mr Musk announced earlier this month that the company is shifting its headquarters to Texas from California.

Tesla said it is expanding new "full self-driving" technology to more drivers based on "demonstrated driver safety".

But earlier this month, highway safety regulators in the United States demanded details from Tesla on issues with the new autonomous system, building on a previously announced probe.

CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson said the strong results were already priced into Tesla shares, describing the trading action as "muted".

Moreover, the company's statement that the magnitude of its growth will be determined largely by outside factors gives investors pause, Mr Nelson said.

Tesla shares dipped 0.6 per cent to US$860.97 in after-hours trading. Shares have risen more than 25 per cent in the last two months.

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