Tesla Reports 5th Straight Quarterly Profit: Live Updates

Tesla reports another quarterly profit, but its growth may be slowing.

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Tesla on Wednesday reported a profit for the fifth consecutive quarter, putting it on track to report its only annual profit since its founding in 2003.

Tesla said it made $331 million, or 27 cents per share, in the three months that ended in September. The company reported a profit of $143 million, or 16 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

The company delivered 139,600 cars in the third quarter. That was a roughly 50 percent increase from the second quarter, when sales and production were severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Tesla faces questions about whether that strong sales growth is tapering off. Analysts believe Tesla’s sales in the United States have already slowed, and they have said it may be suffering from sluggishness in other parts of the world. In China, Tesla has cut prices several times this year and sales of the Model 3 sedans it makes in Shanghai declined slightly in September compared with August and July. And in Europe, the company faces growing competition from traditional automakers.

“Tesla is losing ground in Europe to fierce competitors” that have offered more affordable electric models, Vicki Bryan, the chief executive of Bond Angle, a research firm, said in a report before the company’s earnings report. Ms. Bryan also said Tesla’s Model Y hatchback seemed to be taking sales away from the Model 3 rather than adding to the company’s sales.

The company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, last month appeared to temper expectations when he forecast that sales would rise 30 to 40 percent this year, implying a range of 482,000 to 514,000 cars.

Tesla would have to sell 182,000 cars in the fourth quarter to sell more than 500,000 cars for the year. Most analysts expect sales for the full year to fall short of that mark, however. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company delivered 112,000 cars.

While several automakers have introduced electric vehicles, Tesla so far has faced little serious competition. But that could change over the next year or so.

On Tuesday, General Motors offered a preview of a battery-powered and technology-packed Hummer pickup truck that it plans to begin selling in about 12 months. The Hummer EV is supposed to go 350 miles or more on a full charge — in line with Tesla’s top models. G.M. promised the truck will be able to charge enough in 10 minutes to travel 100 miles.

The first edition will start at $112,595. Other editions due in 2022 and later will be available for under $100,000.

The Hummer EV is meant to compete with Tesla’s pickup, the Cybertruck, which is supposed to go into production late next year. Ford Motor, Rivian and other automakers are also hoping to bring electric pickup trucks to the market soon.

Credit…Michael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top White House officials said on Wednesday that they were continuing to narrow their differences on a sweeping stimulus plan to provide pandemic relief to struggling Americans and businesses, even as the California Democrat conceded that a bipartisan deal might not be possible before the Nov. 3 election.

A nearly one-hour conversation between Ms. Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary brought the pair “closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation,” a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said.

And Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said he was “still very hopeful and very optimistic that we’re making progress.”

But with time waning to cement an agreement that could be enacted in time for Election Day, both sides remained wary.

Mr. Meadows, who met with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, told reporters that lawmakers in his party had grown suspicious of Ms. Pelosi’s tactics and were “starting to get to a point where they believe that she is not negotiating in a fair and equitable manner.”

Ms. Pelosi said she remained upbeat about the prospects for a compromise, but allowed for the possibility that it would wait until after the election.

“I’m optimistic that there will be a bill,” she said in an interview on MSNBC. “It’s a question of, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive.”

Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats blocked a move by Republicans to advance a $500 billion plan that would revive lapsed federal unemployment benefits and a popular federal loan program for small businesses, as well as provide additional money for testing.

Democrats, who have argued the package falls far short of the level of aid needed, unanimously opposed it, and it fell short on a party-line vote of 51-44, failing to clear the 60-vote threshold required to move forward.

Mr. Meadows said earlier Wednesday that a call by Democrats for hundreds of billions of dollars more in federal aid for states and cities and their resistance to a liability shield for businesses remained the toughest obstacles to a bipartisan stimulus deal.

“The biggest issue remains state and local assistance,” Mr. Meadows said on the Fox Business Network. “That remains a stumbling block.”

The White House has proposed providing $250 billion to states and municipalities, Mr. Meadows said, while House Democrats have called for double that. He also said that the liability protections were a crucial priority for Republicans, and he chided Ms. Pelosi for resisting them, saying she was being “disingenuous” if she believed that his party would agree to any deal without them.

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin are expected to speak again on Thursday.

Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve governor who is seen as a possible future Treasury secretary if former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the election, warned in a speech Wednesday that “the easiest improvements” in the labor market “are likely behind us.”

Ms. Brainard pointed out that the share of permanent layoffs is rising — bad news because it takes longer to rehire those workers than people who have temporarily lost their jobs — and that unemployment insurance claims have ticked up. She also noted that participation rates for women in their prime working years have fallen.

That decline “could have longer-term implications for household incomes and potential growth,” she said.

A shortfall in government support could pose a major risk to the pace of the economic rebound, Ms. Brainard said, especially if additional help comes after hard-hit households burn through the savings they built up earlier in the crisis.

Apart from the course of the virus itself, the most significant downside risk to my outlook would be the failure of additional fiscal support to materialize,” she said.

Economists often refer to the economic rebound underway as K-shaped, meaning that it is sharply divided. Some people have held onto their jobs, watched their savings rise and maintained basically normal consumption patterns despite some pandemic-spurred modifications. But another broad segment of workers has lost jobs and seen its labor income dry up. While many such households are now living off savings from earlier government support, those funds will not last forever. Likewise, many big businesses are doing well, even as smaller companies and those in hard-hit sectors struggle.

“Further targeted fiscal support will be needed alongside accommodative monetary policy to turn this K-shaped recovery into a broad-based and inclusive recovery,” Ms. Brainard said. “The most important message is simply that we will have a much better, stronger, more inclusive recovery if we do continue to see that targeted fiscal support” alongside Fed policy.

Credit…Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges of defrauding federal health agencies and violating anti-kickback laws, and faces penalties of roughly $8.3 billion, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday.

The company’s owners, members of the wealthy Sackler family, will pay $225 million in civil penalties.

Wednesday’s announcement does not conclude the extensive litigation against Purdue, but it does represent a significant advance in the long legal march by states, cities and counties to compel the most prominent defendant in the opioid epidemic to help pay for the public health crisis that has resulted in the deaths of more than 450,000 Americans since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, it is unlikely the company will end up paying anything close to the $8 billion negotiated in the settlement deal. That is because it is in bankruptcy court and the federal government will have to take its place in a long line of creditors. Typically, creditors end up collecting pennies on the dollar.

Credit…Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

One of the fronts in the Justice Department’s case against Google is a 13-year-old agreement between Apple and Google that has evolved into a multibillion-dollar deal with enormous consequences for both companies and many of their rivals.

When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, Google was the device’s default search engine. In return, Google paid Apple a chunk of the ad revenue it collected from the millions of Google searches conducted on iPhones.

Today that arrangement covers all Apple devices, which now account for nearly half of all Google search traffic, according to the Justice Department’s lawsuit. As a result, Google pays Apple an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion a year, according to the suit. That has made Apple and Google hugely reliant on one another, while edging out other search engines and, according to the U.S. government, protecting Google’s monopoly.

“By paying Apple a portion of the monopoly rents extracted from advertisers, Google has aligned Apple’s financial incentives with its own and set the price of bidding for distribution extraordinarily high — in the billions,” the Justice Department said in its lawsuit.

With billions of dollars on the line, the partnership is critical to both companies.

With billions of dollars on the line, the partnership is critical to both companies. Inside Google, losing its pole position on iPhones is considered a “Code Red” scenario, according to the lawsuit. At Apple, Google’s payments account for roughly 15 percent to 20 percent of Apple’s profits.

Google officials said they weren’t aware of the Justice Department’s “Code Red” allegation and that the company’s deal with Apple is no different than Coca-Cola paying a supermarket for prominent shelf space.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Credit…Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama will preside over the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google, according to a note posted to the case’s docket on Wednesday.

Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia was appointed to the bench in late 2014. He spent much of his career in private practice and worked a public defender in the early 2000s.

Mr. Mehta has handled some high-profile cases. Last year, he ruled in favor of Congress’s attempt to subpoena President Trump’s financial records. He partially ruled against the Trump administration’s freeze to visa programs earlier this year.

And he has supported a federal attempt to rein in business concentration. In 2015, he sided with the government’s plan to block the proposed merger of US Foods and Sysco, two prominent food distributors. The merger ultimately fell apart because of the opposition.

He did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Wednesday.

The Justice Department lawsuit filed on Tuesday argues that Google obtained a monopoly over online search services — and the ads that run on them — and then used contracts with phone makers like Apple to protect that power. Google has said that the lawsuit is groundless and denies it engages in anti-competitive behavior. The company expects it will be at least a year before the lawsuit goes to trial.

  • Stocks on Wall Street fell on Wednesday, after drifting back and forth from positive to negative territory, as investors sought clarity on the prospects of a stimulus deal in Washington.

  • Europe’s benchmark stock indexes headed lower as the region’s central bank warned of the risk to Europe’s economy from a second wave of the pandemic.

  • The S&P 500 ended 0.2 percent lower. Stocks in Europe fell, with major indexes down 1 to 2 percent as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

  • Netflix was lower after the company reported Tuesday that it had signed up fewer new subscribers last quarter than expected. Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, surged on its report that it had recorded a big increase in users.

  • On Tuesday, stocks were whipsawed by conflicting comments about the state of the stimulus talks, but ended the day up half a percent. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “optimistic” a deal could be reached with the Trump administration in the coming days. A few hours later, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, told Republicans that he had advised the White House not to strike a deal. Later still, Ms. Pelosi’s spokesman said the speaker and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, had found “common ground as they move closer to an agreement.”

  • On Wednesday, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said that a push by Democrats for hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid for states and cities and Democrats’ resistance to a liability shield for businesses remained the toughest obstacles to a stimulus deal.

Credit…Christian Monterrosa/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Netflix attracted 2.2 million new subscribers for the third quarter, about one million lower than what investors were expecting and short of the 2.5 million Netflix itself had forecast, the company reported Tuesday. Consumer interest in Netflix accelerated earlier in the year as households in lockdown streamed films and shows more than usual, giving the company a record number of new subscribers.

  • Britain’s postal service, Royal Mail, announced it would start to pick up parcels from residential houses as the country sees a surge in online shopping. It will cost 72 pence per package, or nearly $1, for the service.

  • Pioneer Natural Resources, a leading shale oil producer, said on Tuesday that it would buy Parsley Energy for $4.5 billion to expand its operations in the Permian Basin, the oil field that straddles West Texas and New Mexico. A day earlier, ConocoPhillips announced that it was acquiring Concho Resources, another Permian producer, for $9.7 billion. These and other acquisitions signal that oil and gas companies are looking for ways to cut costs because they do not anticipate a quick recovery in demand for their products, which tumbled this spring when the pandemic took hold.

  • Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, said revenue for the third quarter was $678 million, up 52 percent from a year ago, exceeding analysts’ estimates of $559 million. While some analysts had predicted that Snap’s growth would tail off as people returned to school, its number of daily active users rose 18 percent to 249 million. But the company posted a net loss of nearly $200 million in the quarter, narrower than the loss of $227 million a year ago. The company’s stock jumped on the news.

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