Tesla may post profit with Model 3 surge, investors look for more

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In early 2017, the Palo Alto, California-based company announced plans to produce up to 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of that year.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said he expects the company to stay profitable from this point forward, and appeared to calm fears about his behavior, company debt, and snags ramping up production line efficiency. Further meaning, it fulfilled Musk's promise that the company would move into the black and production of Model 3 sedans would pick up speed.

In recent weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have contacted former Tesla employees asking them for testimony in the criminal case.

Last month the USA financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, accused him of defrauding investors when he claimed he had secured funding to take Tesla private.

Management walked back its 10,000/week production target and instead focused on hitting 7,000, which could lead to lower production estimates from the Bulls for 2019-2020. In the third quarter of 2018, the profit of the company amounted to $312 thousand, or $1,75 a share, compared with a loss of $4,22 per share in the second quarter.

Tesla officials "were transparent about how hard it would be" to ramp up Model 3 production, said spokesman Kamran Mumtaz.

"While the media has been focused on Elon Musk's eccentric, outlandish and at times offensive behavior, it has failed to notice the legitimate disruption of the auto industry that is now being dominated by Tesla", Citron wrote. The rise in income came as Tesla started to finally get on top of the production issues that hampered the introduction of the entry-level Model 3 saloon.

Musk also was unclear about whether or not the company could meet the 20% margin goal on the Model 3's $35,000 edition.

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"Ultimately, given difficulties that we did not foresee in this first-of-its-kind production ramp, it took us six months longer than we expected to meet our 5,000 unit per week guidance", he said.

For the same period a year earlier, the company reported a loss of US$619 million.

He continued: "The company's cash balance (less deposits) and working capital have been a concern for investors for the past several quarters".

While the third-quarter results were definitely "impressive", and spurred at least one upgrade to outperform at Wolfe Research, most analysts questioned whether the profit and robust cash flow were sustainable and can be repeated next quarter.

Strong free cash flow of $881 million bolsters Tesla's balance sheet and should be sufficient to allay investor fears over cash burn.

In 2016, the prototype of the most recent Tesla model, the Model 3, was revealed but not officially released to the public before undergoing a few additional modifications.

While Tesla tries to shake up the industry, long-established automaker Ford Motor Co. reported a net profit decline of 37 percent in the third quarter as sales slowed in the US and China.