Tesla’s Elon Musk defends comments during earnings call

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Elon Musk | AP file photo

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is going on the defensive in a series of tweets, saying the people he shut down during a contentious conference call were analysts who believe investors could profit by betting that the company’s stock price will fall.

Musk, who’s been known for his quirky behavior, came under scrutiny after the conference call for Tesla’s quarterly earnings Wednesday went awry. Musk was criticized for cutting off two analysts that asked about the electric vehicle and solar panel company’s cash needs and orders for its Model-3. Musk called the questions “dry” and “not cool.”

On Friday Musk tried to clarify some comments he made during the call, tweeting that he deemed a question about capital expenditures “boneheaded” because the answer was already given in a first-quarter newsletter.

Musk also said a question about Model-3 demand was absurd because Tesla reservations far surpass current production levels, noting it’d take two years just to fill existing demand.

The conference call Wednesday night came just after Tesla Inc. announced a record first-quarter loss. The quarterly performance, coupled with the conference call, saw Tesla’s stock drop quickly in after-hours trading and continue to decline on Thursday. But following Musk’s comments to his 21.6 million followers on Twitter, the shares have started to recover: up about 1.3 percent in Friday morning trading.

Tesla investors have been hoping that by enduring millions of dollars of short-term losses for years that they will see a long-term payoff. Musk’s comments may have been enough to assuage them for now.

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