While the market didn’t mind Tesla’s Q1 2018 financial results with the stock being up ~1% after they released the results, the market took offense at CEO Elon Musk shutting down Wall Street analysts and taking a swipe at day traders in the conference call following the results.
As we reported earlier this week, Musk agreed to take questions from retail investors during the quarterly conference call after a successful campaign led by Galileo Russell, a financial analyst and Tesla retail investor, tried to convince him and Tesla’s investor relations department.
But the transition was anything but seamless.
After a few questions from Wall Street analysts, Musk got irritated about what he called “bonehead questions” and cut the analysts off and instead, he only took the crowdsourced questions curated by Russell for about half an hour.
They ended up bringing back some analysts to ask questions at the end, but Musk mostly used this as an opportunity to take a shot at Wall Street again.
When asked about releasing information about Tesla’s progress with Model 3 production in the next weeks and months, Musk answered:
Tesla is such a leaky sieve of information that I think news will leak pretty quickly. Also people track registrations very closely. So, at most, any information that we provide would be a week or two in advance of what will become public knowledge just due to vehicle registrations and shipments that are tracked very carefully. The point is people get too focused on what’s happening in the space of a few weeks or a few months. This is an old maxim of investing, but you should not be focused on short-term things, you should be focused on long-term things. 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.
And they did sell Tesla’s stock because traders dumped the stock in after-hours trading and the slide continued today.
Tesla stock was down 6% at the time of writing.
While I can understand the frustration of the analysts, no one can deny that the conference call was way more entertaining than ever before and that we got a lot more information out of it.
The questions from Wall Street analysts were often getting repetitive and “building on” the previous questions. More often than not, it resulted in Musk or Deepak Ahuja, Tesla’s CFO, referring back to things that they already disclosed in the shareholders’ letter or previous report.
Two questions into the call last night, I told others in the Electrek’s newsroom that it’s going to be a boring one after just hearing the same questions about capex and Model 3 output, but boy was I wrong.
I couldn’t believe it when Musk just shut it down and said: “we are going to YouTube.”
I talked to Galileo during the afternoon to help him workshop the questions and he told me that it sounded like he was going to be the last one to ask a question, which is generally limited to one and a follow-up.
I told him that he needed to prepare quite a few questions in case his main question gets partly answered with Musk comments when answering other questions, but, of course, that turned out differently.
As for Musk’s other comments on day traders, it’s funny because it actually works with something Galileo and I discussed with Seth on the podcast last month.
Notably, Galileo will be joining us again on tomorrow’s podcast (4pm ET) to discuss earnings.
Musk made it clear before that he doesn’t like the quarterly focus that Tesla is subject to as a public company. It attracts a certain type of investor, and day traders, that creates a lot of drama around Tesla’s stock.
With comments like that, Musk is basically shaking off those investors and focusing on a core group of investors, long-term investors who believe in Tesla’s mission, like Galileo, who he was clearly catering to during that call.
Now, of course, there’s another side to this. When Tesla needs money, Wall Street is where they go, but the middle finger that Musk sent their way sure makes it look like he is confident in his prediction that Tesla is not gonna need to raise more money – or at least in 2018.
But at the same time, if there’s money in it, Wall Street will always be around to get its cut – offended or not.
Featured Image: Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, reacts to a reporter’s question following the electric automaker’s initial public offering on Nasdaq, Tuesday, June, 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)