Tesla Posts First Full-Year Profit

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Tesla Inc. posted its first full-year profit, powered by record vehicle deliveries amid a global pandemic and growing demand for electric cars that is driving the company to pursue a sharp rise in output this year.

The Silicon Valley car maker said Wednesday it expects to increase production about 50% on average for the coming years—and top that rate in 2021. The company delivered around half a million vehicles to customers last year, up more than a third from 2019 levels, even as world-wide auto sales plunged roughly 14%, according to researcher LMC Automotive.

Chief Executive Elon Musk last year suggested a delivery target of about 840,000 to one million vehicles in 2021. Wall Street’s projection is for about 796,000 vehicles.

For 2020, Tesla reported a profit of $721 million on about $31.5 billion in sales; that compares with an $862 million loss and sales of $24.6 billion in 2019. The company topped Wall Street’s revenue expectation of about $31.1 billion, according to FactSet, though it missed profit estimates.

Tesla said its bottom line in the latest quarter was weighed down by a range of factors, including supply-chain costs and preparations for updated versions of its Model S luxury sedan and Model X sport-utility vehicle.

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