The company delivered only about 88,400 of the 102,672 cars it built for customers.
The number of completed sales was up 40% from the year earlier. But it was down 21% from the record fourth quarter sales that lifted Tesla to its first annual operating profit. Still, that beat recently lowered Wall Street estimates of 80,000 deliveries in the quarter. It was “a small victory in a dark environment,” according to a note from analyst Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities.
Tesla had to temporarily halt production at its new factory in Shanghai in late January due to restrictions put in place in China to combat the coronavirus. It kept its main plant in Fremont, California running even as state officials ordered non-essential businesses in the area to shut. But on March 19 it went ahead and suspended production there as well.
Most of the auto industry suffered steep declines in car sales in the first quarter due to shutdowns in much of the United States, Europe and Asia in an effort to battle coronavirus. Forecasts for US and global sales for the entire industry have been slashed in recent weeks.
Even with the decline in sales from the company’s fourth quarter results, the first quarter performance helped to lift Tesla shares 17% in after-hours trading.
Shares of Tesla were among the hottest in the market from June through mid-February, gaining more than 400% in less than nine months as it reached a record close of $917.42 on Feb. 19.
Since then its shares have lost half their value as markets overall declined globally. Even so, they still were up 150% from the June low as of the close on Thursday before the after-hours surge in the price.