Tesla’s profits skyrocketed in the first quarter, but challenges are looming
Tesla said on Wednesday that it made profit of $3.3 billion in the first three months of the year, up from $438 million a year earlier, but the company also said it expects its factories to… would run below capacity for the remainder of 2022.
The electric-car maker said its revenue was $18.8 billion in the first quarter, up from $10.4 billion a year earlier. The profit significantly exceeded investor expectations.
Tesla was the fastest-growing major automaker last year, nearly doubling sales to nearly a million vehicles as the industry as a whole slumped. New factories near Austin, Texas, and Berlin put the company in a position to repeat that growth this year — if it can overcome some serious challenges.
That includes a semiconductor shortage that has plagued automakers for more than a year. Tesla also had to close its factory in Shanghai because of China’s draconian attempts to contain the corona virus. China accounted for a quarter of Tesla sales last year, and the Shanghai plant also exports cars to other countries in Asia and Europe.
Tesla said on Wednesday that it had resumed “restricted production” in Shanghai after a three-week shutdown. However, it warned that it continues to face “persistent” supply chain problems as well as rising raw material costs.
“Our own factories have been running below capacity for several quarters as the supply chain became the main limiting factor, which is likely to continue through the end of 2022,” Tesla said in a statement.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a conference call with investors and analysts on Wednesday that his “best guess” is that Tesla will produce 1.5 million cars this year, hitting the company’s goal of growing sales by 1.5 million reach 50 percent per year.
Analysts worry that supply chain and manufacturing issues, which Tesla avoided better than other automakers last year, could hurt the company’s growth this year.
“A robust demand story for Tesla has been overshadowed by brutal manufacturing issues in China and a Rubik’s Cube supply chain that continues to dog Tesla, as well as the rest of the auto/tech industry,” analysts at Wedbush Securities said in a note to clients ahead of the company’s earnings release Tesla for the first quarter.
Mr Musk said rising prices for lithium are forcing the company to raise prices, potentially slowing the pace at which people are switching to electric vehicles. Some lithium producers are enjoying 90 percent profit margins, he added.
What Happens to Elon Musk’s Twitter Bid?
The offer. Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, has made an unsolicited bid worth more than $43 billion for the social media company. Mr Musk said he wanted to make Twitter a private company and he wanted people to be able to speak more freely about the service.
“Can more people please get into the lithium business?” he said. “Do you like making money? Then the lithium business is for you.”
Mr Musk hinted that Tesla could get more involved in the commodities supply chain, but didn’t say whether it would expand directly into mining metals like lithium. “We look closely at all the raw materials,” he said. “We believe we will have some exciting announcements in the coming months.”
Tesla remains by far the largest maker of battery-powered cars. 310,000 vehicles were sold in the first three months of 2022, an increase of almost 70 percent compared to the previous year. But traditional automakers like Volkswagen, Ford Motor, and Hyundai Motor have recognized the threat and started selling models that challenge Tesla’s dominance.
There is also a risk that Mr. Musk could alienate some car buyers with his high-profile Twitter purchase offer. Some potential clients may hail Mr Musk as a free speech advocate, but others fear he will open up Twitter to hate speech and misinformation.
Mr Musk did not discuss and was not questioned during the call about his proposed takeover of Twitter.