Tesla 4Q net income doubles due to tax benefit but earnings fall short of analyst estimates

DETROIT — Tesla’s net income more than doubled last quarter on a one-time tax benefit, even as electric vehicle price cuts and slowing sales growth cut into profits.

The Austin, Texas, vehicle, solar panel and battery maker said its net income was $7.93 billion from October through December, compared with $3.69 billion a year earlier.

But excluding one-time items such as the $5.9 billion noncash tax benefit for deferred tax assets, the company made $2.49 billion, or 71 cents per share. That was down 39% from a year ago and short of analyst estimates. Data provider FactSet said analysts expected earnings of 73 cents per share.

Tesla reported quarterly revenue of $25.17 billion, up 3% from a year earlier but also below analyst estimates of $25.64 billion.

Earlier this month Tesla reported that fourth-quarter sales rose by almost 20%, boosted by steep price cuts in the U.S. and worldwide through the year. Some cuts amounted to $20,000 on higher priced models.

Tesla’s sales growth rate was slower than previous quarters. For the full year, it sales rose 37.7%, short of the 50% growth rate that CEO Elon Musk predicted in most years. The company reported deliveries of 484,507 for the quarter. As usual, the bulk of Tesla’s sales were its lower-priced Models 3 and Y.

Fast growing Chinese powerhouse BYD passed Tesla in the fourth quarter as the world’s top-selling EV company.

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