News Column

Tesla Profit Beats Estimates

May 15, 2013

Alan Ohnsman

Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors Inc.'s first quarterly profit, led by a surge in deliveries of the electric-car maker's Model S, got an added bump from sales of California and U.S. environmental credits that generated 15 percent of revenue.

Such sales totaled $85 million, the Palo Alto, Calif.- based company said in a May 10 filing. That included California zero- emission vehicle credits of $67.9 million and "other regulatory credits" of $17.1 million, Tesla said. The latter amount, mainly from U.S. rules, wasn't detailed in the first-quarter earnings on May 8, said Jeff Evanson, a spokesman.

The automaker, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has surplus credits because it sells only electric vehicles, which don't produce tailpipe emissions. Tesla reported quarterly net income of $11.2 million, beating analysts' estimates, on 4,900 sales of the Model S, which has a $69,900 base price.

Tesla gained 14 percent to a record $87.80 at the close in New York. The shares have more than doubled this year, as the Russell 1000 Index rose 15 percent.

California requires large carmakers to have varying amounts of zero-emission vehicle credits from electric auto sales to curb tailpipe exhaust. Tesla also has credits to sell under federal regulations on fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions. The company didn't identify buyers of the credits.

The first-quarter revenue from zero-emission credits was probably a peak for the year, Chief Executive Officer Musk, 41, said in a conference call last week.

"We're expecting a decline in ZEV credit revenue for Q2, and then, probably a fairly significant decline in Q3," he said. "We are not expecting anything in Q4."

Sales from zero-emission credits, which are included in automotive revenue, were disclosed last week because they are typically more volatile than other types of environmental credits, Evanson said, without elaborating.

Tesla's total quarterly sales were $561.8 million, including $555.2 million in automotive revenue.

Originally published by ALAN OHNSMAN Bloomberg News.

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