Tesla Inc. generated fourth-quarter net income of $270 million, securing a full-year profit for the first time since its founding in 2003.
The electric vehicle maker said Wednesday it expects to remain consistently profitable moving forward, even as executives suggested the main driver of its recent success -- sales of regulatory credits to competitors -- could become less of a factor.
On a conference call with analysts, Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn noted the $401 million the EV maker made in the fourth quarter from credit sales was higher than anticipated and came from “discreet deals struck over the course of the quarter.”
He reiterated that Tesla is not planning the business around credit sales and does not expect them to be a factor long-term.
The company's fourth-quarter revenue jumped 46 percent to $10.7 billion, with automotive margins during the period hitting 24 percent.
Tesla delivered 499,647 vehicles in 2020, up 61 percent year over year but just missing CEO Elon Musk's goal of 500,000.
"This past year was transformative for Tesla," the automaker said in a statement Wednesday. "Despite unforeseen global challenges, we outpaced many trends seen elsewhere in the industry as we significantly increased volumes, profitability and cash generation."
For the full year, Tesla posted net income of $721 million and an automotive gross margin of 25.6 percent. It predicted at least 50 percent year-over-year growth in vehicle deliveries moving forward and suggested that rate would be higher in 2021, although Musk noted on the earnings call the company “didn’t want to commit to that.”
Operating margin will "continue to grow over time," Tesla said.
Tesla shares closed Thursday's trading down 3.3 percent to $835.43.
The automaker is on track to open two new factories in 2021 in Texas and Germany. The Texas plant will produce the company’s Cybertruck pickup and other models.