Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) is on a tear after the electric car maker exceeded expectations by delivering a total of 88,400 vehicles in the first quarter, rising up to 15% on Friday’s pre-market. The figures were impressive considering the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic in March. They were also around 10% more than Wall St’s adjusted estimates, which stood at about 80,000 vehicles.
Interestingly enough, Tesla’s strong results were largely due to the Model 3 sedan and the Model Y crossover, which began deliveries across the United States in the first quarter. Tesla did not specify exactly how many Model Y handovers it conducted in Q1, but the vehicle nevertheless contributed to Tesla delivering 76,200 units of the sedan and crossover between January and March.
Prior to the onset of the coronavirus, Wall St’s expectations for Tesla’s Q1 2020 deliveries stood at about 97,000 vehicles. But with Tesla’s production facilities such as the Fremont Factory being shut down in March and Gigafactory Shanghai following a government-mandated shutdown in February, analysts adjusted their first quarter vehicle delivery estimates to just about 80,000 vehicles.
Without the shutdown resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, Tesla would likely have delivered far more vehicles, perhaps meeting or exceeding Wall St’s initial 97,000-vehicle estimate. This is due to Tesla’s tendency to engage in a massive, company-wide end-of-quarter push that involves the company going all-hands-on-deck to deliver as many vehicles as possible to customers.
During these end-of-quarter initiatives, it is not rare to see regular Tesla owners volunteering their time and efforts to help new owners get familiar with their vehicles. Company executives such as Elon Musk also tend to personally help out during these times, handing over new cars to buyers. These were not possible this first quarter due to social distancing rules, among other reasons.
In Tesla’s Q1 2020 production and deliveries report, the electric car maker highlighted that Gigafactory Shanghai is achieving record levels of production. This could be a crucial part of the company’s strategy in the second quarter, as the Shanghai-based plant is already operating at normal capacity following its shutdown in February. With Tesla’s US factories’ return to production being uncertain, Gigafactory Shanghai’s Made-in-China Model 3 production ramp could be a key difference-maker.
With the first-quarter production and delivery figures fully released, all eyes are now on Tesla’s Q1 2020 earnings, which will likely be reported later this month. Elon Musk has previously noted that Q1 2020 will be a challenging period, and the factory shutdowns in the United States and China will probably not help much, but considering the company’s decent delivery numbers, perhaps the idea of a profitable Tesla in the first quarter may not be too farfetched at all.
Tesla opened up 11.14% at $505.12 per share during Friday’s opening bell.
Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.