Tesla Beats on Earnings and Revenue, and Everything Is on Schedule

Tesla Model X

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) was facing a lot of pressure to perform during the first-quarter of 2014 to satisfy analysts calling for meaningful growth while its production remains bound by capacity constraints and the supply of battery cells for its Model S sedan remains a trickle. While the company is still moving to fulfill orders here in North America, it’s having to set aside units for delivery to China and Europe. Tesla is bound; it has the ability and the legs to run (and fast), but is shackled by chains and a lock — the key for which it doesn’t hold.

Expectations for the first-quarter called for earnings 7 cents per share, down from 12 cents during the year-ago quarter, and revenue of $704.5 million, Tesla’s best quarterly performance figure ever, according to Bloomberg’s panel of analysts. Crucially, that’s without the zero-emissions credits, and represents a 25 percent leap over the same figure from the year-ago quarter. Projections are also calling for the delivery of 6,429 Model S cars to Europe and North America. The estimates are closely bound, ranging from a low of 6,200 to a high of 6,600. Tesla itself was aiming for 6,400.

As it turned out, Tesla beat on earnings with 12 cents per share, flat with the same period last year. It delivered 6,457 cars, just slightly beating out its own guidance, but impressively, it produced a record 7,535 vehicles, allowing it to fill its Asian and European pipelines. However, the stock is being dragged down in after-hours trading on Wednesday as Tesla, on a GAAP basis, reported a loss of 40 cents per share, or $50 million.

On a GAAP basis, it reported revenues of $713 million, handily trouncing even the rosiest of estimates and leading to a 27 percent gain year-on-year. That figure included $15 million in Toyota powertrain sales, and almost $12 million of regulatory credit sales, but excluded zero emission vehicle (ZEV) credit sales, as was expected. That’s an important factor, considering Tesla’s profits and revenues in the past relied on such sales.