Tesla Made $101 Million From Bitcoin Sale, Quarterly Earnings Show

Tesla, which purchased $1.5 billion in bitcoin earlier this year, boosted its first quarter bottom line by $101 million through the sale of the world's biggest digital currency.
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Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report earned just over $100 million from the sale of bitcoins it purchased earlier this year, the company revealed in its first quarter earnings Monday.

Tesla, which unveiled a purchase of $1.5 billion on February 8 when it published its annual report, noted Monday that its 'cash and cash equivalents' stood at $17.1 billion at quarter-end, including its bitcoin holdings. 

However, it also noted in its "profitability" notes that its operating income of $594 million was helped by "year over year, positive impacts from volume growth, regulatory credit revenue growth, gross margin improvement driven by further product cost reductions and sale of bitcoin ($101 million positive impact, net of related impairments) were mainly offset by a lower ASP, increased SBC, additional supply chain costs, R&D investments and other items."

Tesla's earnings statement said the bitcoin sale was $272 million, and noted that its 'digital assets" total at quarter-end was $1.331 billion. 

Tesla shares, which closed at $738.20 each after rising 1.21% on the session -- helping power the Nasdaq to an all-time closing high -- were marked 2.25% lower in after-hours trading to indicate a Tuesday opening bell price of $721.70 each. 

Under U.S. accounting rules, Tesla's bitcoin holdings must be held as a so-called 'intangible' asset on its corporate balance sheet. That means that, like the value of "goodwill", it can't be increased. However, it can be marked down when bitcoin prices decline, leaving Tesla's stock price at least partly-linked to bitcoin fluctuations.

The bitcoin revelation was part of an otherwise solid, but not spectacular, first quarter earnings report that included revenues of $10.39 billion -- including a 46% increase in the sale of regulatory credits, which brought in $518 million -- and a 100 basis point improvement in its automotive profit margin, which was pegged at 26.5%.

Tesla said non-GAAP earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at 93 cents per share, well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 79 cents per share and compared to a pre-split tally of $1.24 share over the same period last year.