Musk calls move to snub Tesla analysts ‘foolish’

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said it was “foolish” of him to snub Wall Street analysts on a conference call after earnings on Wednesday. In a series of tweets on Friday, he claimed the two analysts he cut off in questioning “were trying to justify their Tesla short thesis.” But the two have hold or neutral ratings on the stock, according to Thomson Reuters data.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk pauses at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

The outspoken Musk’s treatment of RBC Capital Markets’ Joseph Spak and Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi roiled Wall Street and sent Tesla’s shares down 5 percent on Thursday. Musk on the call said “boring, bonehead questions are not cool” and went to an alternate line of questioning from a little known investor, who runs YouTube investment channel HyperChange TV.

“I should have answered their questions live. It was foolish of me to ignore them,” Musk wrote in a tweet.

Both analysts were not immediately available for a comment on Musk’s tweets.

In the call, Musk was asked questions related to reservations of the Model 3 sedan and the company’s capital requirement.

Tesla has been burning through cash as it strives to efficiently and profitably build its first vehicle intended to be produced at high volume, the Model 3.

“The ‘dry’ questions were not asked by investors, but rather by two sell-side analysts who were trying to justify their Tesla short thesis. They are actually on the *opposite* side of investors,” Musk tweeted earlier Friday.

“HyperChange represented actual investors, so I switched to them,” Musk wrote in another tweet. He devoted 23 minutes to 25-year-old Tesla investor, Galileo Russell, who runs HyperChange TV.

The bizarre call yielded scathing comments from analysts and at least three brokerages cut price targets on the stock.

“While the consequences are unquantifiable, we believe Tesla’s CEO made a mistake in refusing to answer some of the analyst questions about the Model 3 ramp,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note on Thursday.

Sacconaghi, one of the rebuffed analysts, wrote “we do worry that such theatrics will unnecessarily undermine investor confidence in Tesla’s outlook.”

Sacconaghi has a price target of $265 on Tesla’s stock and Spak lowered his target to $280 from $305 on Thursday. Tesla’s median Wall Street price target is $317. The stock was trading up 1.5 percent at $288.70 in morning trade.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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