LOS ANGELES -- Tesla Motors' second-quarter profit came with a slew of asterisks -- accounting adjustments that avoided what otherwise would have been a net loss of anywhere from $31 million to $100 million.
Yet even without the accounting changes, the electric vehicle maker's financial and sales results beat many analysts' expectations. That sent the already high-flying stock soaring nearly 15 percent over the next day.
On a non-GAAP, or generally accepted accounting principles basis, Tesla said its net income totaled $26 million for the quarter, on $405 million in revenue. But the company said the result excluded such special items as stock-based compensation, the impact of lease accounting, the change in fair value related to Tesla's warrant liabilities, noncash interest expenses and one-time expenses associated with the early repayment of its U.S. Department of Energy loan.
With $100 million in gross profit, on a non-GAAP basis, the company said it generated a gross profit margin of 22 percent. But that result excluded r&d expenses and sales and administrative costs. When those outlays are accounted for, Tesla posted an operating loss of $12 million in the second quarter, before interest and taxes. Including a one-time interest expense, the loss came to $30.5 million.
Tesla's use of non-GAAP accounting strips out what the startup automaker considers one-time expenses. But there were also one-time revenues that Tesla used to bolster its numbers.
The biggest of them are the zero-emission vehicle credits it collects from federal and state governments, and can then sell to other automakers. In the second quarter, that revenue came to $69 million, or $13,400 for each of Tesla's 5,150 cars sold.
CEO Elon Musk has said Tesla will stop selling ZEV credits in the fourth quarter, but that plan may soon be moot. Tesla could lose the use of ZEV credits if the California Air Resources Board changes its quick-charge battery regulation in October.
Total revenue fell to $405 million in the second quarter from $561 million in the first quarter. The drop reflected an accounting requirement that defers some revenue on vehicles financed through Tesla and its financial partners.
In a conference call with analysts, Musk teased at much grander volumes. Although Tesla hopes to sell about 21,000 units this year and double that next year, the automaker just spent $150 million to add 31 acres adjacent to its Fremont, Calif., factory.
"Buying that land makes it easier for us to achieve that 500k number," Musk said.
Previously, Tesla had cited peak volumes well below 500,000 units. The new forecast may signal the company's outlook and targets for the Tesla Gen III compact sedan that arrives in late 2016 or early 2017.