Tesla reports back-to-back profitable quarters

Tesla reported Wednesday a profit of $139 million, or $0.78 a share, and better-than-expected sales, yet failed to meet analysts’ expectations for earnings in the fourth quarter. Shares fell after the markets closed and are down 1.7 percent as of 2:30 pm PT.

Tesla has managed to string together two profitable periods in a row thanks to sales of the Model 3 and despite several headwinds in the fourth quarter, including a non-cash charge of $54 million attributable to non-controlling interests, higher import duties on components from China, a price reduction for Model S and Model X in China and the introduction of a lower-priced mid-range version of Model 3.

In October, Tesla reported its first profit after seven consecutive quarters of losses. It was only the third time in its history that it had achieved this milestone.

Tesla’s profitable fourth quarter lies in stark contrast to its financial position in the same period last year when it reported a loss of $675 million, or $1.75 a share.

Perhaps just as important as the automaker’s income is its cash position. Tesla reported that its cash position improved by $1.45 billion despite the scheduled repayment of a $230 million convertible bond in the fourth quarter.

“We have sufficient cash on hand to comfortably settle in cash our convertible bond that will mature in March 2019,” the shareholder letter to investors said.

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