Tesla boss Elon Musk has paid a steep price for rebuking analysts asking about the companys profit potential during a conference call – $2bn (£1.47bn) to be exact.
The electric car manufacturer yesterday announced its first quarter result, which showed the company had posted its largest ever quarterly loss.
To achieve profitability, Tesla will have to reverse what today amounts to a $22,584 pre-tax loss per vehicle built by the Silicon Valley company.
But when analysts began asking Musk about Teslas path to profitability following the results during a conference call yesterday, the companys CEO quickly cut them off.
“These questions are so dry. Theyre killing me,” Musk said after an analyst asked about Tesla 3 figures, while another analyst asked about capital requirement before also being cut off.
Musk then proceeded to take several questions about plans for a self-driving car network and other long-term projects from the host of a YouTube channel focused on investing. The Tesla CEO praised the questions for being more interesting.
Shares in the company tumbled five per cent shortly after, wiping $2bn off the car makers market capitalisation as investors seemed to be rebuke the fiery CEO.
“The hit TV series Billions has recently witnessed the death of a visionary entrepreneur when his new space rocket crashed to earth with him on board and you cant help but wonder if the canny writers were having a gentle dig at Teslas Elon Musk,” said Russ Mould, AJ Bell's investment director.
“The companys $7.4bn net debt pile and dwindling cash resources mean the pressure is on Musk and his colleagues to resolve the Model 3 production problems as fast as they can.
"Nor will testy conference calls help the companys case if – or when – it needs to access equity or debt markets for fresh funding, something which seems quite possible given the companys current cash flow profile”.
The company yesterday announced that it had cut its capital expenditures and dropped its spending forecasts for 2018, saying it would spend less than $3bn after spending $3.4 billion in 2017.
Musk said he planned to shut down Tesla's Fremont, California factory for 10 days in the second quarter but promised that Tesla will meet the production target of 5,000 Model 3s per day by the end of June and will turn a profit in the second half of the year.