By Hyunjoo Jin and Akanksha Rana
(Reuters) -Electric carmaker Tesla Inc marginally beat Wall Street expectations for first-quarter revenue on Monday boosted by a jump in environmental credit sales to other automakers and robust demand from China.
Sales of regulatory permits were higher than quarterly profit, in line with the trend of several quarters, and net profit was dented by a $299 million award to Chief Executive Elon Musk. Tesla’s quarterly performance hit targets qualifying the billionaire entrepreneur for two options payouts worth a combined $11 billion. (Graphic on options payout) https://tmsnrt.rs/3sW7Xrv
“Higher regulatory credits, lower taxes, and bitcoin sales buoyed financial results. Back these out, and it was a large miss,” Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin said.
Tesla trimmed its bitcoin position by 10% during the quarter, which contributed to a small gain in first-quarter financials.
“We do believe long term in the value of bitcoin,” said Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn. “It is our intent to hold what we have long term and continue to accumulate bitcoin from transactions from our customers as they purchase vehicles.”
Tesla posted record deliveries in the first quarter despite a global chip shortage that has slammed auto sector rivals. Model Y production in China has spurred demand there.
Still, the world’s most valuable automaker, whose shares jumped more than eight-fold last year, faces challenges of living up to its valuation and managing expectations.
“Tesla looks well positioned to continue delivering more vehicles in the future as more production plants come online which, in turn, could see the company reign in the ludicrous valuation metrics that it currently possesses,” said Peter Hanks of DailyFX.com.
The first quarter “had some of the most difficult supply chain challenges that we’ve ever experienced in Tesla,” Musk said.
However, its vehicle average selling price fell by 13% as production of pricier Model S and Model X vehicles ground to a halt ahead of major updates. Tesla will start deliveries of the new Model S next month and high-volume production in the third quarter. The Model Y production rate in Shanghai continued to improve.
Tesla said it expects this year’s volume growth to exceed 50%, while saying that it is on track to start production and deliveries at its planned factories in Texas and Berlin this year. Musk said Tesla will have 2 million cars on the road next year, up from more than 1 million cars now.
Rivals such as Volkswagen and Ford Motor Co are rolling out their own all-electric vehicles, aiming to compete with Tesla on price and style.
In the United States, Tesla’s full self-driving software is facing new federal investigations following 28 crashes of Tesla vehicles, including a recent one in Texas that killed two.
On a call with investors, Tesla said someone was likely in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash and all seat belts post-crash were found to be unbuckled.
Revenue rose to $10.39 billion from $5.99 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected revenue of $10.29 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Tesla earned $518 million from sales of regulatory credits in the first quarter, up 46% from a year earlier. Tesla earns credits for exceeding emissions and fuel economy standards and sells them to other automakers that fall short of the goals.
Adjusted profit of 93 cents per share topped Wall Street’s consensus of 79 cents.
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin in Berkeley, California; Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in Oakland, California; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)