Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk dared high-risk investors to “please sell our stock” during an earnings call Wednesday, in what one participant described as “the most unusual call I have experienced in 20 years on the sell-side.”
The company’s stock value fell 5.55% Thursday to close at $284.45 per share. “As Tesla CEO Elon Musk found, ducking analysts’ questions has a price: $2 billion,” Reuters tweeted afterwards.
In the course of the call, Musk directly dismissed analysts trying to explore his company’s financial position, while repeatedly praising a small, subscriber-based YouTube channel with titles like, “Why I Bought Tesla Today At $255/Share”. He took a series of 12 questions from the host of HyperChange TV over a 20-minute span, in what the Washington Post describes as “an eternity in earnings call time”.
“Sorry. These questions are so dry. They’re killing me!” Musk said at one point. Earlier, he abruptly interrupted an exchange between an analyst and CEO Deepak Ahuja. “Next,” he declared. “Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”
He railed against “inflammatory headlines” in news coverage of autonomous vehicle crashes that, in his view, put drivers at risk by downplaying the safety of cars that aren’t subject to human error. Later, he told an analyst he had “no interest in satisfying the desires of day traders” and encouraged his audience to sell their Tesla stock if its volatility makes them nervous.
“I couldn’t care less,” he said. “Please sell our stock and don’t buy it.”
“Elon, you’ve got to grow up. You’ve got to stop looking at shiny objects and you’ve got to get on track,” retorted Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book, in a follow-up interview with CNBC.
“I just left the call very frustrated,” she said. “You have to take analyst questions, adult analyst questions, not fanboys, not retail analysts.”