Tesla shrugs off the global chip shortage to post its most profitable quarter yet

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a black suit walks on stage in front of an image of a Model Y vehicle
Tesla reported its earnings for the second quarter of 2021 on Monday afternoon. Aly Song/Reuters
  • Tesla reported its earnings for the second quarter of 2021 on Monday afternoon.
  • The electric-car maker crushed Wall Street’s expectations for revenue and profit.
  • The company largely escaped the worst effects of a global semiconductor shortage straining the industry.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla on Monday posted its most profitable quarter yet, beating Wall Street’s expectations even as a microchip shortage and other supply-chain troubles complicate car production.

Here are the important numbers:

  • Revenue: $US11.958 billion, compared to an expected $US11.36 ($AU15) billion
  • Earnings: $US1 ($AU1).45 ($AU2) (adjusted) per share, compared to an expected $US0.974 per share.

Elon Musk’s automaker reported $US1 ($AU1).14 ($AU2) billion in (GAAP) net income, more than double the $US438 ($AU593) million it made during the first quarter of 2021.

For the first time, Tesla’s quarterly profits exceeded $US1 ($AU1) billion. It’s also the first quarter that Tesla turned a profit even without counting sales of zero-emission credits to other automakers, a revenue source it has historically relied on to stay in the black and which tallied $US354 ($AU480) million for the quarter.

Tesla said it was able to grow its operating income mainly by increasing volume and reducing costs. That growth was offset by factors including a $US23 ($AU31) million depreciation of its bitcoin holdings.

The company has posted strong sales figures in 2021 even as a global chip shortage hobbles vehicle production worldwide and forces automakers to idle production lines.

“Supply chain challenges, in particular global semiconductor shortages and port congestion, continued to be present in Q2,” the company said. “The Tesla team, including supply chain, software development and our factories, worked extremely hard to keep production running as close to full capacity as possible.”

However, Tesla said it has shifted production of its electric semi-truck to 2022 due to “global supply chain challenges” and to focus on ramping up production at upcoming factories in Berlin and Austin. The company said it expects to start production at both plants in 2021. The Berlin facility was supposed to open July 1, but bureaucratic hurdles and environmental concerns have delayed those plans indefinitely.

The electric automaker delivered 201,250 cars during the second quarter, smashing the 184,800-vehicle record it set during the previous three months. That put Tesla on the path toward selling more than 800,000 vehicles in 2021, a significant increase over the 500,000 it sold in 2020.

Shares moved higher by about 1.5% in late trading Monday following the release.