Tesla’s Bizarre Conference Call: Musk Went After Analysts And His Own Execs


Tesla’s conference call on Wednesday gets a 10-bowl popcorn rating.

10-Bowl Rating

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s performance on Wednesday’s earnings call was bizarre and contentious. Musk attacked after everyone. After hours, shares of Tesla took a hit: Elon Musk acted like a jerk, and Tesla stock paid the price.

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk held a long, odd earnings conference call Wednesday in which he insulted analysts, the media, federal regulators and people who died behind the wheel of his cars, and then told anyone concerned about volatility not to invest in his company.

Unsurprisingly, volatility ensued, as Tesla (TSLA) shares dropped quickly during an increasingly bizarre call with the very analysts and media whom Musk attacked.

Tesla on Wednesday disclosed the largest quarterly loss in the history of a company known far and wide for losing vast sums of money, with a net loss of almost $785 million. The numbers still managed to beat expectations that have been repeatedly lowered for more than a year, which led Musk to take a victory lap on Twitter after losing more than three quarters of a billion dollars in three months.

It only got weirder from there. In his conference-call introduction, Musk confused per-week and per-day production figures, described a “super complicated” robot Tesla designed and built before realizing it could not perform its unnecessary function, then mentioned offhandedly that he planned to restructure the company this month — a disclosure he never revisited to provide more information.

When the question-and-answer session started, Musk turned vitriolic, and not even his fellow executives were safe. After Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja referred to Tesla as “best in class” for batteries while responding to an analyst query, he was interrupted by Musk.

“The best. It is not a class,” Musk interjected. “Yes, we’re the best. Sorry,” Ahuja replied. “The best in a class of one,” Musk made sure to point out.

Soon, Musk turned his ire toward the financial analysts who were asking the questions. When Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi attempted to ask about capital-expenditure spending and the money needed, Musk cut him off by yelling “Next!” When RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak then asked how many people with Model 3 reservations were actually taking delivery of their cars, Musk declined to answer any more “boring,” “dry” questions. “You’re killing me,” he said.

By the time Baird analyst Ben Kallo took the phone more than an hour into the call, the apprehension was thick. Kallo took more time with an introduction to his question, which gave reasoning for why Musk should answer it and not be angry at him, than actually asking the question. Musk did not really answer his question, instead complaining about leaks to the media and his own investors.

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