Tesla stocks dropped Wednesday night after CEO Elon Musk engaged in a highly unusual and combative earnings call that included criticizing reporters for asking “boneheaded” questions about problems plaguing the electric automaker.
The California-based company’s shares fell 5 percent following Musk’s strange, vaudeville-like, discussion with reporters. Veteran analyst at Morgan Stanley, Adam Jonas, called the earnings call “the most unusual call” he’d ever experienced. The outburst comes as Tesla posted $2 billion in losses.
Musk’s off script musings could hurt Tesla’s ability to obtain cash from capital markets, Jonas told Bloomberg shortly after the call concluded. The Tesla CEO appeared to grow increasingly irritated with what he called “boneheaded” questions from media members who participated in the call.
“Excuse me. Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?” he said after an analyst from Bernstein lobbed a volley of questions at Deepak Ahuja, Tesla’s chief financial officer, about capital expenditures. Musk then shut down another analyst for asking what he determined silly and “dry” questions.
“We’re gonna go to YouTube. Sorry. These questions are so dry. They’re killing me,” he said before giving the floor to Tesla investor Galileo Russell, host of the “HyperChange TV” YouTube channel, which has more than 9,000 subscribers.
Russel, a Musk acolyte, asked the bulk of the final questions. He was not immune to Musk’s barbs.
“I’m just wondering why that isn’t a moat,” Russel said, referring to Tesla’s willingness to allow other electric vehicles to use its charging stations. “The charging infrastructure you guys have built would take years and millions of dollars for another brand to replicate, so I’m just curious about the strategic thinking behind opening that up versus keeping it closed.”
“I think moats are lame,” Musk responded. “If your only defense against invading armies is a moat, you will not last long.” His slipshod discussion with reporter comes as Wall Street analysts grow more and more impatient with Tesla’s inability to meet deadlines or turn a profit.
Moody’s dropped Tesla’s credit rating in March and changed the company’s outlook to negative as the fledgling Model 3’s production dwindles while the automaker’s financial situation grows dim.
Tesla will need to raise more money in the near future to meet its cash needs, the credit rating agency claimed. Moody’s labeled the electric car marker a substantial risk for investors willing to dive headfirst into the auto market.
Tesla has not responded to questions about Moody’s downgrade, according to a CNBC report. S&P adjusted the company’s credit down to a negative B rating in April 2017 — it also holds a negative outlook for Tesla going forward.