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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Contributor/Getty Images

Tesla had a good night, and now the question is whether it's a new day for the pioneering but volatile automaker that kicked off the push to move electric vehicles toward the mainstream.

Driving the news: Tesla surprised Wall Street with a $143 million third-quarter profit on Wednesday evening, and announced plans to ramp up vehicle production at its China factory sooner than expected.

  • The results sent the stock surging by over 20% in after-market trading. It was still up by 18% when the market opened Thursday.
  • The company also announced that deliveries of its Model Y SUV crossover will launch next summer, ahead of schedule.

What they're saying, via AP: Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives called it a "jaw dropper," adding, "The Street wanted profitability and Tesla delivered in big fashion."

Why it matters: Tesla's recent cash-losing streak is over, though the company turned a bigger profit in 2018's Q3 with $311 million, and the company talked up its cost-controlling efforts.

  • However, Tesla also saw its first annual revenue drop since 2012, as it sells more of its lower-priced Model 3 vehicles and fewer higher-priced models.

But, but, but: Tesla has yet to prove it can be consistently profitable, and it's facing rising competition as legacy automakers and startups alike roll out new electric models.

  • And the company has already reached the ceiling for consumers to use the full $7,500 tax credit, which is limited to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, and phases down from there. That could give a price edge to competitors that can still take advantage of the incentive.
  • "We think questions remain regarding the sustainability of these results, particularly as EV competition ramps up and its tax credit goes away," CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson tells MarketWatch.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.