DETROIT — Tesla eked out a small fourth-quarter profit to close 2018, but fell short of Wall Street estimates. Now it faces the difficult task of sustaining profits while facing a major debt payment amid slowing demand for pricier versions of its electric vehicles.
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla posted net income of $139.48 million, or 78 cents per share, from October through December. It reported two straight quarterly net profits for the first time since going public in 2010.
Excluding one-time items including stock-based compensation, Tesla made $1.93 per share, but analysts polled by FactSet expected $2.20.
For the full year, the company lost $976.09 million, or $5.72 per share. Without one-time items, the loss was $1.33 per share, better than estimates of $1.24.
Fourth-quarter revenue more than doubled from a year ago to $7.23 million, beating estimates of $7.12 billion. The company’s cash position improved by $753 million at the end of the year to $4.28 million, despite repaying $230 million in convertible notes. It had $9.4 billion in debt at the end of the year, a slight improvement over 2017.
The quarterly profit was less than half of the $311.5 million the company earned in the third quarter.
Tesla wrote in a letter to investors Wednesday that it expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, a growth rate of 45 percent to 65 percent compared with 2018.