Tesla stock (TSLA) took a plunge by as much as 15% in the wake of a turbulent day that followed the release of the company’s Q3 financial results and a calamitous conference call featuring CEO Elon Musk.
The rollercoaster ride began when Tesla’s financial results were unveiled. While the company did miss some of the market’s expectations, the stock remained relatively stable, potentially buoyed by the anticipation of the forthcoming Cybertruck delivery event. However, the trajectory took an abrupt turn when Musk and Tesla‘s management engaged in what could only be described as a catastrophe.
TSLA stock as of 11:49am ET, 10/20/23
Several factors emerging from the call appear to have contributed to the steep decline in the Tesla stock price. Elon Musk’s decision to “temper expectations” for the Cybertruck and the announcement of delays in the construction of Gigafactory Mexico were among them. However, the overall atmosphere of the conference call itself played a significant role in the subsequent sell-off.
First and foremost, the manner in which the call was conducted left much to be desired. Musk’s opening statement was inaudible due to technical difficulties, with the CEO apparently muted. The situation was only exacerbated when Tesla unmuted Musk, yet he continued speaking as though nothing had occurred. This happened not just once, but twice during the call. The incident raises concerns about whether Musk is surrounded by “yes men” who are reluctant to convey unfavorable news, reflecting a larger issue within the company.
Furthermore, Musk’s evasion of important questions was a cause for disappointment among investors and analysts. When pressed on the topic of Tesla’s plan to assume legal responsibility for Full Self-Driving (FSD), Musk responded by complaining about ongoing lawsuits and touting the concept of “baby AGI,” an artificial general intelligence term that hardly addressed the core inquiry.
Lastly, Musk’s lengthy diatribe about macroeconomics and interest rates, though undeniably impacting Tesla’s business, struck many as off-putting. Complaining about external factors over which Tesla has little control and then sidestepping questions within the company’s purview raised eyebrows among market observers. While interest rates do play a role in Tesla’s operations, the company has adjusted prices multiple times in the past year, more than what would be necessary to maintain consistent monthly payments despite rising interest rates.
Some are left to speculate whether Musk’s behavior may be influenced by his active presence on social media, particularly X (Twitter), and the echo chamber of superfan-driven feedback. This could potentially contribute to his disregard for the financial intricacies of Tesla’s business.