Tesla's Elon Musk defends comments during earnings call

Tesla's Elon Musk defends comments during earnings call

Tesla's Elon Musk defends comments during earnings call

The CEO said questions he was getting were "so dry" and told the conference-call operator to pivot instead to inquiries from a YouTube channel owner who said he was representing retail investors.

"I should have answered their questions, live", Musk tweeted a day later.

Both analysts snubbed by Musk - RBC Capital Markets' Joseph Spak and Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi - have a "hold" or equivalent rating on Tesla shares, rather than a "sell" rating.

Explaining his decision in a string of tweets - which Mr Musk prefaced with a warning to "ignore unless you're interested in a tedious discussion about Tesla stock" - he said that the company was the most shorted stock on the market.

His actions had immediate consequences.

Sacconaghi fired back at Musk Thursday, telling CNBC: "This is a financial analyst call, this is not a TED talk". Sacconaghi said the response he got from Musk could be a worrying sign. First of all, even though short sellers take the position that a stock is headed lower, by most definitions, they are "investors". But following Musk's comments to his 21.6 million followers on Twitter, the shares have started to recover: up about 1.3 percent in Friday morning trading.

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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.

Tesla's stock price dropped to $283 on Thursday, down from a record of $389 reached in September.

On Friday Musk tried to clarify some comments he made during the call, tweeting that he deemed a question about capital expenditures "boneheaded" because the answer was already given in a first-quarter newsletter. If his account checks out, it's not hard to see why Musk would be annoyed.

Musk further insulted RBC's Spak by saying he had asked an "absurd" question about demand for Tesla's Model 3 - easily the company's most important vehicle.

Levy added that although Tesla management should be "more disciplined publicly", the key to the stock is whether Tesla can ramp up production of the Model 3, its mass-market electric vehicle.

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