Embattled Tesla Motors answered its critics this week in the language markets understand best, delivering US$312 million in third-quarter profit and bringing its balance sheet into the black for the first time since 2016.
The news drove the company’s share price up 12%, and even some of Tesla’s critics seem to be impressed by the turnaround.
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“The Model 3 is a proven hit, and many of the warning signs have proven not to be significant,” wrote Andrew Left, a skeptical investor who is currently suing CEO Elon Musk over his notorious tweets. “While everyone is focused on Elon smoking weed, he is quietly smoking the whole automotive industry.”
“The electric car giant’s deliveries of its Model 3 sedan grew to 56,000 as America’s most valuable automaker surmounted production delays, delivery woes, and a federal regulator’s lawsuit over Musk’s tweets,” the Washington Post reports. The company’s quarterly revenue hit $6.8 billion, more than double the same period last year.
“Sufficient Model 3 profitability was critical to make our business sustainable—something many argued would be impossible to achieve,” Musk wrote Wednesday in a letter to investors. Tesla followed up that release with a Wednesday evening conference call with analysts where its mercurial founder “was unconventionally low-key,” the Post writes, “possibly a response to investors’ calls for the company to act more predictably and for Musk to be more ‘grown up’”.
Musk and other Tesla spokespeople announced progress on self-driving vehicle technology and factory safety, as well as an accelerated manufacturing timeline for its operations in China.
While Tesla shares have lost about a quarter of their value since peaking in August, “the profitable results will likely supercharge investor interest and give Musk broader leeway to shape the company as he sees fit,” the Post states. “The company’s cash stockpile, which grew from $2.2 billion to about $3 billion, could also ease pressure on the company to raise cash from investors who could help pay for new investments and outstanding debts. Musk said the company, which is making $75 million of products per day, did not intend to raise more equity or debt.”
Over the weekend, CleanTechnica—often known for its laudatory coverage of all things Tesla—was out with 18 charts pointing to the extent of the company’s recovery and its emerging dominance in some segments of the auto industry.