Tesla’s Earnings Crushed Expectations Despite Inflation. The Stock Is Up.

Tesla ’s first-quarter earnings looked surprisingly great. CEO Elon Musk even offered guidance for the rest of 2022.

The company essentially beat inflation by substituting materials and relentlessly focusing on manufacturing. Shares are higher in after-hours trading Wednesday, recouping losses seen earlier in the day.

Tesla (ticker: TSLA) earned a record $3.22 per share from $18.8 billion in total sales, its highest total ever. Wall Street was looking for earnings per share of about $2.20 to $2.30 from about $18 billion in sales. In the fourth quarter of 2021, Tesla earned $2.54 a share on sales of $17.7 billion.

Operating profit came in at a record $3.6 billion, compared with expectations for about $2.6 billion.

Shares were up 5.5% in after-hours trading, at about $1,031 a share. The stock fell about 5% in regular trading Wednesday, while the Nasdaq Composite lost about 1.2%. The S&P 500 was flat.

Sales of regulatory credits, which Tesla receives because it produces more than its fair share of low-emission vehicles, contributed to the surprise. Credit sales came in at $679 million in the first quarter, more than double expectations for about $312 million.

Even excluding credit sales, operating profit was a record and much better than Wall Street expected. Tesla's first-quarter operating profit came in at a record $3.6 billion.Source: Company filing

Analysts were projecting an earnings decline from the fourth into the first quarter because inflation was supposed to be a headwind for the company.

The average price in the first quarter for a basket of metals that go into EV batteries was up more than 70% in the first quarter compared with the fourth, according to Barron’s calculations.