Coronavirus doesn't stop Tesla from record deliveries

'This is our best ever first-quarter performance'

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Tesla Inc. surged after reporting its best first-quarter delivery numbers ever, despite disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Palo Alto, California-based electric-vehicle maker delivered 88,400 vehicles in the quarter, easily exceeding the consensus estimate of 79,908. Shipments increased from about 63,000 vehicles a year earlier.

Tesla delivered 76,200 Model 3/Model Y vehicles and 12,200 Model S/Model X vehicles. Its Shanghai production plant “continued to achieve record levels of production, despite significant setbacks," the company said.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused governments around the world to issue “stay-at-home” orders, leading to the temporary closure of non-essential businesses, including the company’s Shanghai and Fremont, California, production plants.

Tesla’s Shanghai facility was idled from Jan. 24 through Feb.10 due to the pandemic. Its Fremont plant was shut on March 23, and there’s no indication as to when it will reopen. Tesla didn't update its previous full-year delivery forecast of 500,000 vehicles.

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“It is very difficult to predict how Tesla will fare during Q2 (due to COVID-19), and we prefer to err on the side of caution,” wrote Piper Sandler analyst Alexander Potter, who has an “overweight” rating on the stock and an $819 price target. He left his full-year delivery expectation unchanged at approximately 438,000 vehicles.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives agreed.

“The big question for investors going forward is around the demand trajectory for 2Q/rest of the year and cash burn as this uncertain consumer environment plays out in the field,” he wrote.

Ives believes that while the company’s cash burn will be elevated in the near-term, longer-term trends are “very healthy.” He has a “neutral” rating and a $425 price target.

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Tesla shares have climbed 8.6 percent this year through Thursday, outperforming the S&P 500’s 22 percent drop.