Tesla shares plummet after Musk labels analyst a "boring bonehead"

Ignacio Smith
May 3, 2018

Tesla opened 7 percent down Thursday, a day after an earnings beat and weird call with analysts.

After Musk said it looked like Tesla would turn a profit later this year, he got testy with analysts as they brought up questions about a possible cash crunch.

After a pause, Musk said "We're going to YouTube", referring to the owner of a channel on the video-streaming service who lobbied the CEO ahead of time for the chance to ask questions on behalf of retail investors.

Previous reports from Reuters suggested the auto manufacturer was targeting a November 2019 release for the electric SUV, but during the company's Q1 2018 earnings call, the CEO said he did not know where the news agency had sourced this information. That's Tesla's first mass market vehicle with a starting sticker price of $35,000, and its success is considered key to the company's business model.

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Speaking about Tesla's increasing cash flow problem, he said: "I'm feeling quite confident about hitting positive cash flow in Q3". More recently, though, Musk said this was now closer to 8,000.

In February, Musk said Tesla would aim to produce one million Model Y cars a year, when the vehicle does finally enter production, but didn't give a predicted timeframe. That is a 26.3% revenue increase quarterly compared to its reports a year ago and also, slightly higher than the estimated $3.22 billion in sales projected by analysts.

Tesla suffered a record loss of nearly $710m in the first three months of this year as it burnt through cash in its struggle to get its flagship Model 3 cars out of the factory and into the hands of customers, the company admitted in a letter to shareholders yesterday.

Musk's ability to run Tesla is crucial as the company strives to efficiently and profitably build its first vehicle meant to be produced at high volume, the Model 3.

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And if more manufacturing hangups are in store for Tesla, the company could be headed for a cash crunch.

The electric carmaker posted its latest earnings results Wednesday, and the filings show Tesla's money stockpile shrank from $3.4 billion to $2.7 billion the first three months of the year.

Excluding items, Tesla had a loss of $3.35 (roughly Rs. 220) per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected an adjusted loss of $3.54 per share.

In Musk's opinion, such a call would probably be boring to begin with.

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The company said it ended the quarter with $3.2 billion in cash after spending $655.7 million in quarterly capital expenses. It said net reservations for the Model 3, including configured orders not yet delivered, exceeded 450,000 at the end of the first quarter.

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