Two days after the "most unusual conference call in 20 years", in which Elon Musk cut off questions from Bernstein and RBC research analysts, the Tesla CEO's descent into some "unstable genius" abyss is, unfortunately, accelerating.
It started very late on Thursday Pacific time, when perhaps unable to procure ambien, Musk took to twitter (after spending the entire night in the factory) and in a series of disjointed, rambling tweets attacked the research analysts (who were merely doing their work, seeking more information on Tesla's CapEx plans and Model 3 rollout) whose assault prompted Musk's erratic behavior that led to a plunge in Tesla stock on Thursday, one Musk may have instigated himself after telling "daytraders" who can't take the volatility to sell Tesla stock.
In his first overnight tweet, in what would soon become a tweetstorm worthy of Donald Trump, Musk "explained" that he had cut off the sellside analysts because, get this, they were "trying to justify their Tesla short thesis" (both have Tesla as a Hold).
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. HyperChange represented actual investors, so I switched to them.*
Musk then doubled down in a later tweet saying "The 2 questioners I ignored on the Q1 call are sell-side analysts who represent a short seller thesis, not investors"
Then, even more bizarrely, in the very next two tweets Musk contradicted himself, saying the analysts were cut off not because "they represent a shot seller thesis", but because they were too lazy to read the company's press release, or "boneheaded" not to believe that a company which has delayed production targets every quarter for the past year, will be able to hits it ambitious goals.
At this point it is worth pointing out that there is no way Musk does not know that sellside research is fundamentally useless – that's why the buyside does its own research – and only exists to facilitate meetings between asset managers and company management (which leads us to assume that there certainly isn't a line of people waiting to speak to Elon). As such, taking the analysts' questions as personally as he did merely indicates that there is something very troubling with Musk's otherwise impeccably rational thought process.
Going back to Musk's tweets, for a second it almost appeared that Elon's bizarre, childish tantrum may finally be ending when in response to a question on twitter, Musk admitted that "I should have answered their questions live. It was foolish of me to ignore them."
The fact that it took Musk 48 hours to grasp this is by far the biggest red flag about Elon's fragile state of mind. Had Musk simply left it at that, the whole bizarre episode may have been on its way to being forgotten, attributed to Musk's occasionally infantile absurdities.
Only it was not meant to be… and in the very next tweet Musk took direct aim at his perceived mortal enemies, the Tesla shorts, when he threatened that the "short burn of the century [is] comin soon. Flamethrowers should arrive just in time."
At this point, just after 6am PT, the hyperventilating Tony Stark decided to finally go to bed.
Unfortunately, any hopes the much needed sleep would have helped him see things more clearly were dashed when after waking up several hours later, Musk appears to have read an article that made him go apeshit.
The article in question was from Barrons, and pointed out that despite "his tweet storm in which he defended his remarks and hit out against short sellers", or perhaps due to, Tesla short interest just hit an all time high:
Short interest in the stock increased by nearly 400,000 shares on May 3, the day after the report, bringing the total to more than 40 million shares for the first time in Tesla’s history, notes S3 Partners’ Ihor Dusaniwsky. Moreover, despite Musk’s remarks today and the stocks’ gain, shorts rose by half a million shares Friday.
Adding insult to injury, author Teresa Rivas touched on a very sensitive topic for Musk – supply vs demand – pointing out that there may not be any more shortable TSLA shares soon
All of which means that Tesla customers and shorts may have something in common, says Dusaniwsky: More demand than supply. Not all long shares are in stock-lending programs, and given the high short interest at the moment, that leaves just 6.5 million shares for expanded short positions.
At this point, Musk, who over the past 72 hours has sounded like he is having an acute psychotic episode or merely a mental breakdown, again took to twitter and in his best Trump impression, let his fingers do the talking before his brain could stop them, and sent out another "message" to the record shorts, this time even more cryptic than before, saying "Looks like sooner than expected" and while it wasn't clear what he was referring to, the context made it clear that this was a continuation of his previous tweet about the "burn of the century" headed for the shorts.
He then clarified his hyperbolic threat: "The sheer magnitude of short carnage will be unreal." and concluded with some friendly advice: "If you’re short, I suggest tiptoeing quietly to the exit …"
And then, in response to a Twitter remark which may or may not have been sarcastic, "You seem very concerned by shorts these days… That is very kind" Musk pulled out the noble humanitarian card, saying he just wants to help the shorts:
With that, Musk's tweetstorm has – for now – concluded, although we doubt it has ended, because unlike Trump, Musk actually does respond to taunts and provocations on Twitter, and after this particular threat, the CEO of the company that just burned another $1 billion in three months will be bombarded with both.
And while it still remains to be determined who will be the winner in the end of this increasingly surreal, absurd saga – Musk or his mortal enemies, the shorts – one thing is clear: things have certainly changed from the simpler days of "Stormy weather in Shortville …"