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Elon Musk Pushes Tesla To Cut Costs, Build Faster To Avoid Bad PR

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

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Chris White Tech Reporter

CEO Elon Musk urged Tesla employees to curb costs and produce “every car we possibly can” in an effort to stem a constant barrage of negative publicity, according to emails obtained by Bloomberg Monday.

“We will be in a far better position to convince potential investors to bet on us if the headline is not ‘Tesla Loses Money Again,’ but rather ‘Tesla Defies All Expectations and Achieves Profitability,’” Musk wrote in an email to workers. “That would be amazing!”

Musk may be attempting to please the company’s bullish investors. Analysts on Wall Street are not sold yet on the Musk’s products.

Colin Langan of UBS Securities has the lowest price target this year, pegging the company at $160 a share.

“Our $160 price target is based on our discounted cash-flow analysis, which is a fundamental valuation,” Langan said in an email. “Broadly, there is a lot of uncertainty in TSLA given ranging views of production, profitability and cash needs. I am cautious on both hitting 2018 and 2020 production targets.”

Meanwhile, Tesla’s believers like Wall Street analyst Charlie Anderson of Dougherty & Co., suggest the company’s fundamentals and demand for the Model 3 are strong.

“We continue to believe that demand is there for the Model 3 and any future vehicles, and that’s why we remain bullish,” Anderson said in email. “Our outcome is that they become as large as BMW is today by 2025 in terms of vehicle volumes. As vehicles go fully electric — we’re now seeing substantially more automakers announce EV plans — they have the technology lead and the brand to take considerable market share.”

Still, many analysts warn Tesla, as well as solar panel provider SolarCity, must find a firm base of support before they can be counted on long-term. Musk is the chairman of SolarCity.

He bought $65 million of the solar company’s bonds, while Musk’s cousins — Lyndon Rive, the company’s CEO, and CTO Peter Rive (Lyndon’s brother) — each bought up $17.5 million, the company said Aug. 24 in a financial filing.

Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, is souring on Tesla’s fortunes, even as his company holds a $5 million position in Tesla, and has recently been selling shares.

“He’s got guts, I’ll give him that,” Gerber told reporters. “He really pushes it out on his companies, but Elon could implode.”

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