Shares of electric vehicle pioneer Tesla Inc. (TSLA) are nosediving yet again on Friday as its high-profile founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Elon Musk dominates the headlines. Here are a few of those things that generated negative press and in some cases hurt the stock -
1. Musk Smokes Weed
Musk appeared on Joe Rogan's popular podcast on Thursday night sipping whiskey, smoking marijuana and talking about electric airplanes. While Musk was in California where recreational use of marijuana is legal, his antics certainly did not sit well with investors. The stock was down close to 1% in pre-market trade. (See more: How Elon Musk Became Elon Musk: A Brief Biography.)
2. High Profile Exits
Coupled with Musk's antics on the podcast, news of two high profile exits from Tesla saw the company's shares plunge close to 9%. The Tesla's chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, resigned Tuesday after only a month on the job. Morton indicated in a recent 8K filing that he left because of "the level of public attention placed on the company."
The other big exit is Tesla's head of human resources, Gabrielle Toledano, who according to Bloomberg, has been on a leave of absence and will not be returning to the company.
3. Missing Production Targets
On Tuesday, news reports emerged about the company missing its production target of manufacturing 6,000 Tesla Model 3 cars each week for the month of August. Though those numbers were later disputed by Tesla bulls, it was still not the best news for the company at the start of the week.
4. Competition Grows, Goldman Expects Stock Declines
Just a day after the news about the production targets, Tesla was hit by a sell rating from Goldman Sachs. Analysts at Goldman beat on Tesla, forecasting a 30% dip in shares in six months due to its inability to ward off new competition from rivals such as Mercedez Benz, which revealed its first all-electric car this week. Company shares dropped 4.2% during the day's trade. (See also: Tesla to Fall 30% in 6 Months on Rising Competition: Goldman)
5. Musk Tweet Courts Controversy, Again
On August 28, Musk took to twitter again, wondering why the British cave diver who he had called 'pedo' hadn't sued him, suggesting there may be some truth in his claims. The diver, Vernon Unsworth, did file a defamation lawsuit against Musk. But that was last week, what came after is what hurt Tesla more.
You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me? He was offered free legal services. And you call yourself @yoda …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2018
The Tesla CEO doubled down on his allegations against Unsworth in an email to BuzzFeed News. That saw Tesla stock slide 2.8% in day's trade and touching lows that it hadn't seen since May. That day also saw Tesla bond prices hit record lows, while insuring Tesla bonds became more expensive according to Reuters. (See also: Tesla Bond Hits Record Low, Stock Slips as Investor Worry Deepens)
6. Tesla, Musk Get Sued
Last month, Musk's tweets regarding a potential take private acquisition for Tesla when shares hit $420 has also been a source of controversy and stock volatility. While Musk claimed funding had been secured for a deal, it was later announced that his tweet was never approved, and that Tesla planned to remain public. In response, short seller Andrew Left is now suing Musk for alleged stock manipulation, adding to concerns regarding an investigation opened by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the matter. (See also: Short Seller Andrew Left Sues Tesla and Musk)
Bears continue to warn on Tesla's mounding cash burn, its unsustainable production levels, heightened industry competition and the instability of both its leader and executive team, as contributing to a share price drop off to as low as the double digits. Meanwhile, bulls highlight the Palo Alto-based auto maker's history of beating the odds, its leadership in the next-gen industry, and its progression towards profitability by the end of the year as reasons the stock could jump to as high as $4,000. As for the broader public, Musk has proved to be quite the controversial figure, revered by millions of loyal fans and criticized by others for his behavior often viewed as erratic and inappropriate.