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A Model 3 on display in a Tesla showroom in Beijing. (Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Tesla reported its fifth consecutive quarter of profitability — raking in $331 million, the most money since the run began — alongside a record number of deliveries of its electric cars.

Why it matters: Tesla has become the world's most valuable automaker. It's on the longest money-making streak in company history, despite disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details: Tesla said it had the "capacity" to produce and deliver 500,000 cars by the end of the year, per a release, but achieving the closely watched goal it set before the pandemic hit "has become more difficult."

  • The company said meeting its objective hinges in part on ramping up production of the Model Y SUV, as well as production at its factory in Shanghai.
  • Tesla has delivered 318,350 vehicles so far this year.

Of note: The automaker made $397 million from the sale of regulatory emission credits to other automakers, a move that's helped boost revenue and profit at Tesla for years.

  • That's over 5% of Tesla's automotive revenue in Q3. It's also more than double what it made from those sales this time last year.
  • The company wouldn't have been profitable this quarter without the revenue from the credit sales, as Reuters notes.

What to watch: Legacy automakers — like General Motors, which also has a stake in electric vehicle upstart Nikola — are getting more aggressive about their electric vehicle ambitions. Other would-be competitors are getting more attention from investors, with a slew of electric vehicle companies going public via SPACs.

  • Yes, but: None of those competitors has impacted Tesla's hold on the electric vehicle market. The "existential question" for Tesla is whether "that status quo is going to continue," Joseph Osha, an analyst who covers Tesla at JMP Securities, tells Axios.

Between the lines: Questions remain about whether Tesla will gain inclusion in the S&P 500 index, opening it up to the roughly $11 trillion worth of investment funds that track the index, per Bloomberg.

  • The company met the final requirement for eligibility — four consecutive quarters of profitability — last quarter. But in a surprising move, Tesla was passed over when the index's committee switched up components in September.
  • Tesla's stock price has run up an eye-popping 409% this year. The stock rose as much as 4% after the company reported earnings.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
38 mins ago - Economy & Business

The digital dollar is now high priority for the Fed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is starting to get serious about a central-bank-backed digital currency, with recent comments from top officials laying out the strongest support yet.

Driving the news: On Tuesday Fed chair Jerome Powell told Congress that developing a digital dollar is a "high priority project for us," but added that there are "significant technical and policy questions."