Tesla shook off supply chain issues to more than triple earnings from year-ago results, easily topping Wall Street’s expectations for the quarter.
The company had adjusted earnings of $2.9 billion, up sharply from $903 million a year earlier and well above $2.6 billion forecast by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Revenue of $17.7 billion was up 65% from a year earlier.
The results took full year earnings to $7.6 billion, and revenue to $53.8 billion.
CEO Elon Musk returned to the conference call with investors after missing the call three months ago. Six months ago he had said he would no longer be on calls unless there was “something important” that he needed to say.
The news he gave investors is that Tesla is putting plans for new vehicles on hold due to the supply chain issues facing the company. “We will not be introducing new vehicle models this year. It wouldn’t make any sense. We’ll still be parts-constrained,” Musk said on the call. “We’ll be ready to bring them to production, hopefully next year.”
Tesla had been talking about numerous vehicles in its product pipeline, including the Cybertruck pickup, a semitruck, a Roadster model, or a $25,000 car that would be less expensive than any of its current models.
Bringing a new product to market in 2021 “would have required a lot of attention and resources,” Musk said. “The same is true of this year.”
He added that the company is dealing with “multiple supply chain challenges” but provided no details. “The chip shortage, while better than last year, is still an issue,” he said.
In its release, the company warned that in the most recent quarter it saw a continuation of global supply chain, transportation, labor and other manufacturing challenges, which it said limited its ability to run factories at full capacity.
Problems with the supply of parts, particularly computer chips, have been an issue for the entire auto industry for more than a year. Tesla has managed to keep increasing its output and sales in the face of those shortages. Its traditional automaker rivals, by contrast, were forced to temporarily shut their factories and limit production. That resulted in an industry-wide tightening of inventories of new vehicles and record high prices for car buyers.
By contrast, Tesla was able to ride the growing appetite for electric vehicles among car buyers. Estimates are that global EV sales increased to 4.5 million last year from 2.1 million in 2020, according to auto research firm LMC. Telsa’s sales for 2021 came to 936,000, nearly double the 500,000 vehicles it sold in 2020.
“With the chip shortage still a major overhang on the auto space and logistical issues globally, this impressive earnings beat speaks to an EV demand trajectory that looks quite robust for Tesla heading into 2022,” said Dan Ives, tech analyst for Wedbush Securities.
Tesla said it expects to increase output at its existing factories in California and Shanghai, while ramping up production at new factories outside of Austin, Texas and Berlin.
“We believe there is potential to extend overall capacity [in its Fremont, California plant] beyond 600,000 per year,” the company. “We believe competitiveness in the EV market will be determined by the ability to add capacity across the supply chain and ramp production,” it said.
It said it started making its Model Y SUV, its newest vehicle, at its Austin plant late last year.
“After final certification of Austin-made Model Y, we plan to start deliveries to customers,” it said. As to its factory in Berlin, the company said it is finalizing manufacturing permits from local authorities there.
The demand is clearly there for Tesla’s cars, assuming the company can increase supply. It said that its supply of vehicles was down to an average of 4 days of inventory in the quarter, down from 11 days a year earlier and a 28-day average in 2017. Even in an industry dealing with record tight supplies of new vehicles, that is an exceptionally low supply.
Tesla’s earnings statement provided no details on when its Cybertruck pickup would be available, other than to say it will be built in Austin “subsequent to Model Y.” The company is due to hold a conference call with investors later Wednesday evening.
Shares of Tesla, which had fallen 11.3% so far in 2022 through Wednesday’s close, moved higher in post-market trading during the early portion of its investor call, after initially dropping following the earnings report.
Even so, Tesla shares are worth more than the market value of the 10 largest global automakers, despite being a smaller company than any of them.
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