Inconsistency has always been a hallmark of Tesla, whether in manufacturing, or quality control, or the messaging from CEO Elon Musk.
But as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc with most rivals' finances, Tesla has shown uncharacteristic stability where it matters most — the bottom line — by posting its first-ever streak of four consecutive quarterly profits.
The electric vehicle maker, which has yet to finish a calendar year in the black, again relied largely on the sale of regulatory credits to competitors to eke out a modest profit in the second quarter, and the four-quarter streak still makes it eligible to join the S&P 500 index. Analysts say Tesla's recent performance, which helped unlock another big payout for Musk, is impressive given the industry's struggles this year.
"As it flirts with sustained profitability, Tesla has to be celebrated for being one of the industry's strongest brands," Zo Rahim, industry and economic insights manager at Cox Automotive, said in a statement. "And while challenges remain — true for any auto company — we think Tesla should no longer be considered a start-up disrupter in the automotive space, but a legitimate player on a global scale."
Musk insists there's even more room to grow.
The company over the next 18 months plans to open factories in Texas and Germany, launch the Cybertruck, Semi and new Roadster, expand its insurance product and debut a self-driving system that Musk promises will "go down as the biggest asset value increase in history."
While Musk is known to overpromise and often has missed ambitious production deadlines, Wall Street remains enchanted with the possibilities from some of the company's future offerings. Even though shares dipped in May after Musk tweeted that Tesla's stock price was too high, they have since more than doubled.
The company's value could increase, according to Musk, as it improves its manufacturing processes, an infamous sore spot during the launch of the Model 3.
He argued that the company could boost efficiency, although he has backed away from previous talk about creating an "alien dreadnought" system that relies on robots instead of people.
"There's far more opportunity for innovation in manufacturing than the product itself," Musk said. "The long-term sustainable advantage of Tesla, I think, will be manufacturing."