Musk defends cutting off 'short seller thesis' analysts

Javier Stokes
May 5, 2018

Mr Musk said the questions were "dry" and "not cool".

Elon Musk lost his composure on Wednesday during Tesla's first-quarter earnings call, and now he's scrambling to clean up the mess. He believes Spak and Sacconaghi are short-selling Tesla, even though both analysts hold a neutral rating on the Silicon Valley auto company.

Yet the Tesla CEO also mounted a defense of the call that may raise even more questions about his handling of the situation, which continues to overshadow the company's actual results.

Back in 2012, Musk commented on the short interest on Tesla's stock and warned that anyone holding a stock position against the company will have a "tsunami of hurt" coming for them. "Excuse me, next", Musk dismissed the question.

"Responding to a suggestion that the analysts - whose questions he had earlier described as "neither valid nor pertinent" - should have been filtered out before they even got a chance to ask a question, he agreed".

Musk later called media stories questioning the safety of autonomy "outrageous".

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Musk tweeted that analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and RBC Capital Markets were representing "a short seller thesis, not investors" when posing questions that Musk cut off during the Wednesday call. "They're killing me", he said on the call.

Elon Musk: We're going to go to YouTube, sorry.

Sacconaghi has a US$265 price target on the stock, while Spak sees the shares falling to US$280.

He explained that the question from Bernstein's Sacconaghi was "boneheaded" because the topic had already been covered in a shareholder letter.

In response to RBC's "absurd" question regarding the percentage of Model 3 reservations that Tesla had started to configure, Musk said that Tesla has roughly a half a million reservations, despite no advertising and no cars in showrooms. By the time Spak had the floor and inquired about the number of reservations for Tesla's Model 3 vehicle, Musk shut it down by saying he simply didn't want to answer "dry" questions.

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