Tesla Posts Quarterly Profit as Elon Musk Keeps His Promise

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Tesla announced their Q3 earnings today and the company surprised Wall Street by posting its first quarterly profit in two years.

He's previously said the company may have been too ambitious when it designed the Model X, and intentionally adopted a simpler design for the subsequent Model 3 mid-sized sedan in order to help speed production.

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Tesla reported a profit of $311.5 million, or $1.75 per share, for the third quarter ended September 30, compared with a loss of $619.4 million, or $3.70 per share, a year earlier.

Tesla Motors delivered on CEO Elon Musk's promise to make money during its latest quarter after fulfilling his pledge to boost production of its first electric auto designed for the mass market. Investors look to free cash flow as a measure of a company's ability to generate cash to finance its core operations rather than raising capital.

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Tesla reaffirmed its forecast for profit and positive free cash flow in the fourth quarter, adding credibility to its chief executive officer's prediction a quarter ago that the company will make those feats routine going forward. Tesla said it produced 5,300 Model 3s in the last week of the third quarter. Musk had made a bold bet that sales of the Model 3, which offers many luxury features of the Models S and X but at a lower price, would more than offset the ambitious production line needed to manufacture the cars at scale.

Tesla has historically struggled to meet Musk's aggressive production targets.

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Shares of Tesla were up more than 12 percent Tuesday afternoon after a noted short seller, Andrew Left of Citron Research, said he's changed his mind and is investing in the company's stock. Along the way, some of Musk's behavior became erratic enough to worry its investors.

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