Tesla on Wednesday reported a profit of $104 million, a result that surprised analysts, who were expecting the electric carmaker to lose money as the coronavirus pandemic squeezed the company on two fronts.
Sales for the second quarter, which ended in June, slowed while much of the economy shut down and as millions of people lost their jobs and cut back on spending. And for nearly two months, the company was forced to halt production at its main plant in Fremont, Calif.
“We were able to achieve a fourth consecutive profitable quarter,” the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, said in a conference call with analysts. “Although the auto industry was down about 30 percent year-over-year, we managed to grow deliveries in the first half of the year.”
Tesla has started work on a fourth car factory at a site near Austin, Texas, Mr. Musk said, where it will produce its forthcoming pickup truck, the Cybertruck, and a new semi truck, along with its Model 3 and Model Y.
Tesla’s surprise profit set it up for another major milestone: potential inclusion in the S&P 500 index. The index is one the most widely followed measures of the performance of the American stock market, with more than $11 trillion worth of mutual funds and other investments measured against it.
It’s unusual for companies with market values as large as Tesla — roughly $290 billion — not to be included in the S&P 500. But the company’s inability to consistently generate profits has made it ineligible so far. (Criteria for inclusion require the sum of the company’s fully audited profits in the four most recent quarters to be positive.)