(Adds details, background)
Jan 29 (Reuters) - Tesla Inc on Wednesday defied skeptics and its stock surged to new all-time highs as the electric carmaker posted the second quarterly profit in a row on record vehicle deliveries and said it would deliver more than 500,000 units this year.
Shares rose more than 6% to $615 after hours, reaching an all-time high and for the first time cracking the $600 mark.
The stock has more than doubled in value since the company posted a third-quarter profit, beat estimates for 2019 vehicle deliveries and ramped up production at its Gigafactory in China.
Wednesday's results follow a profitable third quarter that took investors by surprise and sent the company's stock on a furious rally.
Although there are still a large number of skeptics, investors overall are betting that Tesla has overcome its production, legal and management struggles and is leading the industry on technological innovation for the next generation of cars.
The investor appetite also is a boon to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose mercurial behavior forced him to step down as chairman after a series of scandals and investor doubts about Tesla's ability to withstand competition from larger, better capitalized global rivals.
Boosted by strong demand for its vehicles in Europe and China, Tesla on Wednesday said its cash balance increased to $6.3 billion.
The company has been trying to keep a tight lid on costs but has also been investing in initiatives such as a new factory in Shanghai, a Semi truck, an electric pickup truck, a new generation of the Tesla Roadster and automated driving features.
Total operating expenses rose less than 1% to $1.03 billion
Net income attributable to common shareholders fell to $105 million, or 56 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, from $140 million, or 78 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, Tesla earned $2.06 per share. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.72 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Revenue rose to $7.38 billion from $7.23 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected revenue of $7.02 billion. (https://bit.ly/2GvolcO)
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Lisa Shumaker)