Tesla Q3 revenue in line, EPS beats, shares sag

Tesla removed a line in its shareholder letter that had promised higher unit growth this year.

Electric vehicle pioneer and renewable energy company Tesla Motors this afternoon reported Q3 revenue roughly in line with consensus, and profit that easily topped consensus, and said it exceeded its own outlook for its operating profit margin, as gross profit expanded.

The company removed a line in its shareholder letter that had promised higher unit growth this year.   

Tesla said it delivered 241,391 vehicles in the quarter, above the average Wall Street estimate for 235,000. The number had been previewed in a preliminary release from the company earlier this month. Tesla's final production number for the quarter was 237,823, in line with what it said earlier in the month. 

The report sent Tesla shares down 1% in late trading. 

The company noted in its shareholder letter: "The third quarter of 2021 was a record quarter in many respects. We achieved our best-ever net income, operating profit and gross profit. Additionally, we reached an operating margin of 14.6%, exceeding our medium-term guidance of 'operating margin in low-teens'."

Revenue in the three months ended in December rose to $13.76 billion, yielding a net loss of $1.86 a share.

Analysts had been modeling $13.7 billion and $1.62 per share.

Also: Tesla Q2 report crushes expectations: $11.96 billion revenue, EPS $1.45; shares rise

Tesla said its gross profit margin was 26.6% in the quarter, compared to 24.1% in the prior quarter, and 23.5% in the year-earlier quarter. Tesla considers gross profit as a key indicator of its success as it seeks to consistently reduce the cost of goods.

Tesla said it expects to produce a 50% increase in deliveries on an annual basis over a "multi-year time horizon." That is the same expectation the company offered last quarter, though Tesla removed a line about increasing production more than that this year. 

Today's statement in its entirety reads:

We plan to grow our manufacturing capacity as quickly as possible. Over a multi-year horizon, we expect to achieve 50% average annual growth in vehicle deliveries. The rate of growth will depend on our equipment capacity, operational efficiency and the capacity and stability of the supply chain.

Q2's statement in July read:

We plan to grow our manufacturing capacity as quickly as possible. Over a multi-year horizon, we expect to achieve 50% average annual growth in vehicle deliveries. In some years we may grow faster, which we expect to be the case in 2021. The rate of growth will depend on our equipment capacity, operational efficiency, and the capacity and stability of the supply chain.

Wall Street expects the company may deliver as many as 900,000 units this year. The company is still small compared to internal combustion engine-based manufacturers such as Ford, which sell millions of units every year. Tesla's challenge is to be more than a boutique vendor.   

The report follows Tesla's annual shareholder meeting earlier this month, during which CEO Elon Musk confirmed rumors the company is moving its corporate headquarters from Fremont, California to Austin, Texas.

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