Nobody likes an angry showman. When investors need a distraction from disastrous earnings, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is usually a master at coming up with some shiny new object for them to focus on.
That did not happen on Wednesday’s earnings call. Musk told investors — the folks who actually finance Tesla’s operations — to f— off. Not in so many words, mind you, but Wall Street heard the message loud and clear just the same.
Now, I’ve been a part of lots of earnings calls and listened in on countless more over the decades. They tend to be boring affairs with executives reading from transcripts and carefully rehearsed answers to analyst questions. This call was anything but boring.
Musk, who’s apparently been under a lot of pressure lately, chastised Wall Street analysts for asking “boring, bonehead questions” that “are not cool” and went on a crazy rant about how anyone concerned with volatility should sell or not buy the stock.
Here are some highlights from that wacky event:
Morgan Stanley: Elon, so you repeatedly said, I think, in recent weeks that you do not need to issue equity capital at Tesla. I think many investors on this call would say it’s better to raise capital when you don’t need to. So I guess first question is …
Elon Musk: I disagree.
Morgan Stanley: Yes. You may not need to, but do you want to?
Elon Musk: No. I specifically don’t want to. Don’t make a federal case out of it.
Morgan Stanley: And so where specifically will you be in terms of capital requirements?
Elon Musk: Excuse me. Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?
When RBC Capital Markets asked what percentage of Model 3 reservations have actually taken the step to configure, Musk replied, “We’re going to go to YouTube. Sorry. These questions are so dry. They’re killing me,” then spent the next 25 minutes goofing around with some fanboy, at one point inserting this laughter-laced rant:
“We have no interest in satisfying the desires of day traders. I couldn’t care less. Please sell our stock and don’t buy it. I mean I think that if people are concerned about volatility they should definitely not buy our stock. I’m not here to convince you to buy our stock. Do not buy it if volatility is scary. There you go.”
To me, the guy sounded hysterical. Unhinged. Totally gonzo. And definitely unprofessional. It was not in the best interest of the company for him to behave so childishly. If I was a member of his staff or his board, I wouldn’t just be extremely embarrassed and disappointed, I would seriously consider a change.
The thing is, Musk uses investors to finance Tesla’s operations, unlike the usual practice of, you know, actually making money on sales. So literally cutting off Wall Street and ridiculing investor’s questions is tantamount to telling his financiers to shove it. And someday, they just might do that.
Incidentally, the stock was down 5.5% the following day.
Image credit Heisenberg Media via Flickr