Elon Musk, Combative With Analysts, May Have a Point

May 3, 2018

By Alisha Haridasani

Sometime after Tesla's CEO Elon Musk announced the company had burned through about $1 billion in cash in the first quarter, and that he still predicts the electric carmaker will be profitable by the end of the year, he lit into Wall Street analysts for being "boring," and asking questions that were "so dry, they're killing me."

Musk's combativeness during his earnings conference call Wednesday surprised reporters and rattled some investors: Tesla's stock opened down more than 6 percent Thursday.

During the call after the closing bell on Wednesday, Musk ran through the current state of affairs of the company ー $3.4 billion in revenue, net loss of $780 million ー and reiterated his bold prediction that the company would make more money than it spends in the second half of 2018. But he showed little patience for analysts and institutional investors interested in probing further into Tesla's well-documented problems.

Analysts from Wall Street flagships, including Bernstein and Morgan Stanley described the call as “a unique experience” and said that undermining Tesla’s “relationship with the capital markets” could come back and hurt Musk if he needs to raise fresh capital.

But at least one other person on the call was far more upbeat. “Elon and Tesla are just innovative and disruptive and I think that’s just what we saw on the call,” said Galileo Russell, the founder of the YouTube channel HyperChange TV, who spoke with Cheddar on Thursday.

Russell had asked Musk on Twitter to participate in the call on behalf of long-term, retail investors, and was one of the few participants to who managed to get a number of questions answered without interruption by Musk.

After the call, Russell said he received “hundreds” of tweets and emails thanking him for, “the most informative conference call they’ve ever heard from Tesla.”

Musk said the electric car maker ramped up production of its mass-market Model 3 sedan, which has been beset by problems and delays. It's now producing around 2,000 units a week. The company aims to double that number in two months.

Speeding up in production will help Tesla turn cash-flow positive, said Russell.

“I believe that history repeats itself,” said Russell. Every time Tesla launches a vehicle, “it goes cash flow positive two to three quarters later.”

For full interview, click here.

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