By Hyunjoo Jin and Nivedita Balu
(Reuters) -Tesla Inc on Sunday reported record quarterly deliveries that far exceeded Wall Street estimates, riding out global chip shortages as it ramped up China production.
It was the sixth consecutive quarter that the world's most valuable automaker posted record deliveries. Tesla shares were up 10% to a one-month high in early trading on Monday.
Tesla, led by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, delivered 308,600 vehicles in the fourth quarter, far higher than analysts' forecasts of 263,026 vehicles.
Tesla's October-December deliveries were up about 70% from a year earlier and nearly 30% higher from record deliveries the preceding quarter.
"Great work by Tesla team worldwide!" Musk wrote on Twitter.
His electric car company ramped up production in China even though competition rose and regulatory pressure mounted following consumer complaints over product safety.
Tesla ships China-made models to Europe and some Asian countries.
On an annual basis, the automaker boosted its deliveries by 87% from a year earlier to 936,172 vehicles in 2021.
Musk said in October last year that Tesla will be able to maintain an annual growth rate of more than 50% for "quite a while."
"They have beaten all the odds," Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, said on Sunday.
"The first is the demand for their products is through the roof. And the second is they're doing a great job of meeting that demand," he said.
Munster said he expected Tesla's deliveries to grow to 1.3 million vehicles this year despite headwinds in production at its new factories and supply chain problems.
Tesla Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said in October that it was difficult to predict how quickly the company will be able to boost production at new factories in Texas and Berlin, which will use new vehicle technologies and new teams.
Tesla said in October that it aimed to build its first production cars at both facilities by the end of 2021, but it is not known whether it met that target. Tesla did not respond to a question from Reuters about the plants. Its Berlin factory had initially been scheduled to begin production last summer.
Deutsche Bank said in a report on Friday that it expected Tesla to make nearly 1.5 million vehicle deliveries this year, although chip shortages remain a risk to production.
'SUPER CRAZY' SHORTAGES
In 2020, automakers cut chip orders as the pandemic and lockdown measures hit demand. But Tesla never reduced its production forecast with suppliers to support its rapid growth plan, which helped it weather the chip shortage, Kirkhorn has said.
Tesla, which designs some chips in-house unlike most automakers, also reprogrammed software to use less scarce chips, according to Musk.
Musk, who previously said, "2021 has been the year of super crazy supply chain shortages," said in October that he was optimistic that those issues would pass in 2022.
The strong sales came even after Tesla hiked U.S. vehicle prices sharply this year to offset higher supply chain costs.
Tesla hit over $1 trillion in market capitalization in October after rental car company Hertz said it ordered 100,000 of its vehicles. The company's shares lost some ground after Musk wrote on Twitter in November that he was considering selling 10% of his stake in Tesla.
Overall, Tesla shares gained 50% last year.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco, Nivedita Balu and Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mark Porter)