By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc. shares fell 9% on Friday after CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the automaker’s high-flying stocks were too expensive.
“Tesla’s share price is too high,” Musk said on Twitter in one of several unusual messages, including those citing parts of the American national anthem and that he would sell almost all of his physical assets.
The ensuing decline in stocks wiped out about $ 13 billion from Tesla’s market value and nearly $ 3 billion from Musk’s stake. However, stocks have remained up almost 50% since early April.
More than two hours after the tweets started, Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. Twitter declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk replied to an email asking him if he was kidding or if his tweet was approved saying “no”.
Musk is in the habit of sending out provocative tweets. In August 2018, he tweeted that he had secured funding to possibly buy Tesla at a high price, which led to a fraud case by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk settled in by agreeing to pay $ 20 million and ask a Tesla lawyer to pre-tweet important company information.
Last month, a federal judge said Tesla and Musk were facing shareholder legal action over the now private tweet, including an allegation that Musk intended to defraud them.
In April 2019, Musk tweeted, “My Twitter is pretty much complete nonsense at this point. “
“We consider these comments Musk to be language and it is Elon who is Elon. Investing in this area is certainly a headache for investors as their tweet remains a burning issue and the street is clearly frustrated, “said Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. said by email.
Tesla’s stock has jumped in recent weeks, but has been falling since Wednesday after the company announced unexpected quarterly profit, despite manufacturing disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Musk’s latest tweets follow the others this week. On Tesla’s conference call on Wednesday, he called the United States’ home stay restrictions to limit the coronavirus epidemic “fascist.” These restrictions forced Tesla to shut down its auto plant in Fremont, California.
“Musk has recently expressed strong and sometimes controversial views on COVID-19 and some elements of the response to the crisis and we believe that he is trying to use his large audience and visibility to draw attention to certain economic factors which , he said, can be overlooked, “wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas on Friday.
Musk’s iconoclastic stance has helped him attract more than 33 million Twitter followers and is considered a marketing boon for Tesla.
The recent Tesla rally put Musk on the brink of over $ 700 million in wages. Tesla’s six-month average market capitalization is just under $ 100 billion, a target that would trigger the acquisition of a tranche of options granted to Musk to buy 1.69 million shares in the framework of his two-year compensation plan.
(Report by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, additional report by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; edited by David Gregorio)