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By Ayanti Bera
(Reuters) - Wall Street brokerages gave a resounding thumbs-up to Tesla Inc's <TSLA.O> first-quarter numbers on Thursday, lauding the electric carmaker's improved gross margins and sending its shares 8% higher in trading before the opening bell.
Slipping into profanity on a call with analysts after the results on Wednesday, Musk called current stay-at-home orders "fascist" and said it was a serious risk to the business.
His remarks come around a year after Tesla managed to end a series of legal and regulatory rows over Musk's social media posting by agreeing restrictions with regulators.
A morning round of research notes from major investment banks saw analysts avoid the issue and focus on the fundamentals of Tesla's business.
Analysts with J.P. Morgan said important take-aways, included its "unexpectedly higher" regulatory credits of $354 million in the quarter.
Regulatory credits is the money Tesla receives from other automakers that buy the company's carbon emissions credits to meet stricter regulation.
"The highlight of the result was a solid gross margin beat," Credit Suisse analysts wrote, saying gross margins on both the Model Y compact utility vehicle and its China-made Model 3 had come as a positive surprise.
Tesla's market cap currently stands at around $147.38 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
The company's third profit beat in a row comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has hammered auto sales and production in the United States.
Canaccord Genuity said the strong gross margin at 20.6% was proof of "a meaningful operational improvement that the company has made over the past several quarters".
Company-wide automotive gross margins in the first quarter jumped to 25.5%.
Tesla said on Wednesday it would revisit its outlook for net income and cash flow in its next quarterly earnings.
Another brokerage, Wedbush, predicted that Tesla would miss its 2020 vehicle delivery target of 500,000, saying it was a "virtual impossibility" that the carmaker would hit those numbers, given the worldwide slump in demand.
"Although the rest of the world is essentially shutdown and in lockdown mode, strong Model 3 demand out of China remains a ray of light for Tesla in a dark global macro," the brokerage said.
(Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)