Tesla CEO: Stop Asking "Boneheaded" Questions on My Conference Call

In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill is joined by Fool analysts Jason Moser, Andy Cross, and Ron Gross to consider the state of automaker/battery maker/solar power system maker Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), which is still many months behind schedule on its Model 3 target numbers. The result was that the expenses of getting manufacturing up and running significantly outweighed vehicle sales, and led to the company's worst quarterly showing yet.

But the story of the numbers paled next to CEO Elon Musk's decision to berate the analysts asking for details for hitting him with "not cool" questions -- which he also did not answer. He later apologized. But he's still leaving some questions unanswered.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on May 4, 2018.

Chris Hill: Shares of Tesla down a bit this week after losing a record amount of money in the first quarter. That was still better than Wall Street was expecting. The results of Tesla's quarter took a backseat to the conference call with analysts, in which CEO Elon Musk said that questions were, and I'm quoting here, "boring," "not cool," and "boneheaded."

Ron Gross: [laughs] "Not cool."

Hill: The following day, Musk appeared to backtrack a little bit, saying, "I should have answered their questions live. It was foolish of me to ignore them." What do you think, Jason?

Jason Moser: Maybe this is going to be somewhat of a polarizing subject here. Personally, I actually kind of agree with the spirit of what Musk did here. I do like the fact that he's getting up there and saying, "Listen, a lot of these questions are kind of boneheaded and not really relevant to what I'm trying to do here in building a business for the long haul." But, that goes back to the discussion we've always had about Tesla -- is it a car company, is it a battery company, is it an energy company? It seems like it's a little bit of all three.

We talk a lot about the fact that maybe it would be better if Musk does not do these calls anymore. And, probably, he would benefit from taking a page out of the book of Jeff Bezos and not doing them. The biggest problem there, though, and the reason why I think he can't afford to do that, is because he is Tesla's biggest evangelist. He's the one that gets out there, whether it's on Twitter or the calls, and really puts investors and the public in a great positive frame of mind about this company. If he stops doing that, I think the market more quickly starts valuing this company as a car company, and that's a big problem for them because they're going to need to raise more capital at some point or another.

Andy Cross: To that point, too, Jason, there were a lot of questions about the capital, and he brushed those off and did not really address them. What's interesting is, if they do need to go to the markets to get capital, they have to go to those Wall Street banks or to investors to get that. And when you're so dismissive of them in such the way that he was ... [laughs] it'll be very interesting to see. Either he's like, "They're going to come to me no matter what because of the growth company we are," or he just doesn't care.

Gross: Yeah. And if you're going to use the media and the analytical community to make grandiose statements and sell yourself and your company, then you also have to have the other side of the coin. You have to answer their questions as well. You can't have it just your way.

Andy Cross has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jason Moser owns shares of Twitter. Ron Gross has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla and Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.