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Tesla stunned Wall Street on Wednesday when it reported a substantial third-quarter profit, revenues that were higher than expected and said it expect to hit vehicle delivery targets.
CEO Elon Musk had earlier this year pleaded with his company to reverse Wall Street skepticism by reporting a profit, and this was its first since early 2013 (and only second ever).
The result comes with an asterisk though, as Tesla changed to GAAP from non-GAAP accounting standards, which messed up many analysts models and caused a lot of confusion about how to assess the automaker’s financials.
But it looks like Tesla, as it pushes toward selling a record 80,000 vehicles is finally showing signs on making good on Musk’s ambitions.
We are curious about one factor, which is capital expenditure. When Tesla reported second-quarter earnings, it was talking about spending $2.3 billion in 2016. But through September, the carmaker has spent only $759 million.
So capex has been something of a moving target.
A billion is coming
Now, the company says total capex for the year will be$1.8 billion, however, meaning that Tesla plans to spend more than a cool billion in a single quarter. With over $3 billion in cash on the balance sheet, the company will still be operating where it has historically wanted to, with about $1 billion in cash in reserve.
It’s also widely expected that Tesla will do another capital raise in 2017, but at the moment the company looks like it will be able to back up Musk’s pledge to issue no more stock in 2016.
A billion is still a lot to spend in three months for an automaker than hasn’t spend that much in all of 2016. It’s certainly possible such an accelerated rate of capex will affect fourth-quarter earnings.
Tesla is holding a conference call for analysts at 5:30 ET, so we’ll be listening closely for insight from either Musk or CFO Jason Wheeler on this point.