Questions raised about Tesla's profitable quarter

tesla3.jpgElon Musk is making a big deal about his car company being in the black for the first quarter - and indeed it's an important development, given all the skeptics questioning Tesla's long-term viability. But Bloomberg is reporting that at least some of the revenue is coming from customers who had only reserved cars and are making payments ahead of schedule - per Tesla's request. The problem is that any payments made in the first quarter will be missed once the car is ready for delivery in future quarters. From DealBook:

Here's what Tesla didn't say, though: It didn't quantify the overall size of its order book at the end of the first quarter. There's pent up demand for its cars right now as enthusiasts line up. As a result, the sales increase most likely came from meeting existing orders more quickly than expected. However, what's crucial to the company's fortunes is how many new orders are coming in each quarter - and that figure wasn't released on Monday. Nor was the amount of canceled orders, a negative development Tesla potentially faces. Tesla also didn't provide estimates of its first-quarter profit, in either dollars or earnings per share, something many publicly traded companies often do in their forecasts. Instead, it just said in the news release that "Tesla is amending its Q1 guidance to full profitability, both GAAP and non-GAAP."

Meanwhile, the stock has been bouncing around with each bit of news - it jumped early in the week on word of the first-quarter profit, but it's down today as investors take a second look. The Bloomberg report below has some additional information.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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