SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla posted a surprising profit of $143 million in its latest quarter, raising hopes the electric car pioneer may finally be turning the corner after posting mostly losses during its first decade as a publicly held company.
The positive results announced Wednesday came after Tesla lost $1.1 billion during the first half of the year. That had caused many investors to lose faith in the company even as it boosted sales of its vehicles.
Doubts about Tesla forced its stock to fall by 23% so far this year, while the bellwether Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed 20% so far. But Tesla’s shares recovered a big chunk of those losses after its third-quarter numbers came out, soaring by nearly 18% to $299.41 in extended trading.
The rally stemmed largely to the widespread expectation on Wall Street that Tesla would registere yet another significant loss for the July-September period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had projected Tesla would lose about $253 million during the third quarter.
Instead, Tesla delivered a “jaw dropper,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives. “The Street wanted profitability and Tesla delivered in big fashion.”
The performance represents a measure of vindication for Tesla’s enigmatic co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, who has been facing more questions about whether he is the right person to be steering the company at this critical juncture.
Seemingly emboldened, Musk reiterated a pledge to sell at least 360,000 vehicles this year. Tesla will have to sell about 105,000 cars during the final three months of the year, after delivering a record 97,000 vehicles in the third quarter.
Boosting sales even more in the current quarter is something most analysts have been doubting Tesla will be able to pull off, but that mindset may change after the company’s financial breakthrough in the past quarter.