Thursday, May 3, 2018

"Tesla Earnings: Musk Has Problem With ‘Boring’ Questions, Market Has Problem With Snarky CEO"

From Barron's Tech Trader Daily:
After Elon Musk's abrupt dismissal of analysts' questions on Tesla's quarterly conference call, the question is whether it has any impact on the company's ability to raise the capital it needs to keep going.
The word being used to describe last night’s discussion between Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla (TSLA), and Wall Street analysts, is “bizarre."

Tesla shares this morning are down 6.7% at $281.00 after Musk at one point abruptly cut off the analysts and decided instead to take questions from people via YouTube. The conversation followed the company's report of Q1 revenue and profit that topped analysts' expectations.
Musk warned the assembled up front: “We’re going to go as long as there are good questions to answer."

He kicked off the call by describing how the company has realized it shouldn’t be using robots for some tasks on its assembly line, such as putting felt covers on top of a battery pack.

"We had these fiberglass mats on the top of the battery pack, but basically like—they're basically fluff,” said Musk. "So we tried to automate the placement and bonding of fluff to the top of the battery pack, which is ridiculous.”

"Like so we had flufferbot, which was really an incredibly difficult machine to make work," he continued.

And then things went into the normal back and forth with the analysts, until Musk decided the questions were no longer good.

Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein stepped up to ask about how much the company’s capital expenditures would be this year.

“Excuse me, next. Next. Boring questions are not cool,” said Musk.

Joseph Spak of RBC Capital stepped up to ask how many of those who’d reserved a Model 3 sedan have actually gone ahead with the reservation....MORE
The writer, Tiernan Ray, is one of our favorite tech scribes, in part because he is no fan boy but here he is being too kind. Some of last night's responses:
CNBC —Tesla stock drops as Elon Musk gives bizarre earnings call
ZeroHedge—"Musk Meltdown": Tesla Tumbles After Elon Cuts Off Conference Call Question
and: Morgan Stanley: "Tesla's Call Was The Most Unusual I Have Experienced In 20 Years"
"To be clear. Tonight’s conference call didn't go very well. It made an odd turn ~37 minutes in..."

We were so concerned that Mr. Musk had suffered an aneurysm that one of our posts was headlined:
Tesla Conference Call: Pray For Elon (TSLA)

Elon Is Tweeting, Stock Down a Bit More (TSLA)
Tesla Drops 5% After Musk Refuses To Take Questions From Analyst (TSLA)

Our initial response to the numbers was "meh".
And then Elon lost his mind.

In late pre-market action the stock is down $22.35 (7.42%) at $278.80.