Tesla reportedly faces FBI investigation over production numbers

Adjust Comment Print

The automaker reported free cash flow of $881 million in the quarter - the first time since the third quarter of fiscal 2016 - and Musk stated the company will maintain that in the coming quarters. Strong demand for pricier all-wheel-drive and high-performance versions of the Model 3, plus Tesla's plan to start selling the vehicle in Europe early next year, should support profit margins, he wrote in an email.

Musk also has promised to be cash flow positive, and investors will watch whether its rocky delivery system is improving. Revenues more than doubled from previous year to $6.8 billion to easily top analyst estimates.

Tesla's stock soared 13 percent to $326.12 after the numbers came out.

Electric auto advocates are wildly pointing to this news, loudly declaring that automakers should note that electric vehicles are profitable to make.

Tesla has mentioned plans for such a service before, and Musk said in May it would "probably" be ready to launch by the end of 2019. The all-wheel drive and performance versions help get Tesla closer to its goal of third-quarter Model 3 margins of 15 percent, with 20 percent margins expected for the fourth.

After initially denying the SEC's accusations, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay a combined $40 million fine to resolve the case without acknowledging or denying wrongdoing.

The normally flamboyant Musk let Tesla's results do the flame-throwing this time and held a thoroughly uneventful conference call.

The profit and cash that Tesla generated sent its shares surging to levels last seen in mid-August, when the chief executive officer was still in the midst of a short-lived gambit to take the company private.

Musk envisioned a day when Tesla owners would be able to make their autonomous cars part of a ride-sharing fleet run by the company. That was the equivalent of $1.75 per share, up from a loss of $3.70 per share in 2017.

As to cumulative deliveries, Tesla during the quarter gone by delivered 56,065 Model 3s to customers and a total of 70,000 vehicles overall.

Tesla shares jumped on Thursday as Wall Street analysts said the company had turned a corner with profitable third quarter results and might not now need to raise outside capital. This compared with 2nd quarter figures of a net loss of $718 million from $4.0 billion revenue. The FBI is said to be looking into the company's Model 3 production claims to see if it misstated information and potentially misled investors. However, internal documents from Tesla show that the company is planning to make at least two cars there.

The Shanghai Gigafactory, based in eastern China, aims to manufacture Model 3 and Model Y cars, with annual capacity of 250,000 vehicles, according to a filing.

Production has also picked up, driving sales.

"As much as you can't believe you are reading this, we can't believe we are writing this", Citron wrote.

Comments