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It’s Not Just Analysts: Musk Reportedly Also Hung Up On The NTSB

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

It turns out that it is not just analysts that Elon Musk likes hanging up on. As Tesla news over the course of the last week has been solely about Musk's bizarre behavior on the company‘s most recent conference call (and ensuing Tweets), another interesting nugget slipped its way into the media Friday that was overlooked: Musk also apparently hung up on the NTSB back in April.

Bloomberg reported on Friday, May 4:

Elon Musk, the feisty leader of an empire to build new-age cars and rockets whose dismissive call this week with financial analysts has drawn controversy, last month hung up on the top U.S. transportation accident investigator.

Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, held a phone call with Musk on April 11 to tell him that blog posts by Tesla Inc. casting blame on the driver of a Model X for a fatal California crash had gone too far. The NTSB had earlier warned Tesla not to make statements about the accident while it was being investigated by the board.

Sumwalt then said he was taking the unusual step of kicking the company’s representatives off the investigation.

“Best I remember, he hung up on us,” Sumwalt told attendees of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter dinner Thursday. It was his first public comments on the exchange.

One would think that alienating the regulator that may hold the company’s future in its hands is arguably just as much of a transgression as calling conference call analysts "boring", "dry" and "boneheads".

But now, in the dance that the company has done over the last month to try and put a spin on the NTSB investigation news (of the NTSB dropping Tesla from the investigation and not the other way around), we found out the truth from the source directly. Bloomberg continued:

In the speech, Sumwalt had been discussing the NTSB’s long-time practice of enlisting companies and other government agencies to assist its investigations and praised the cooperation it received from Southwest Airlines Co. following an engine failure that killed a passenger on April 17.

After the conversation between Sumwalt and Musk, the company took the initiative and issued a statement saying it “withdrew” from the probe. Only later on April 12 did the NTSB issue a release saying it had actually removed the car manufacturer.

The NTSB is looking at why the battery on the Model X caught fire after the car struck a highway barrier in Mountain View, California, on March 23. After NTSB opened the investigation, Tesla announced that the car was being guided by the semi-autonomous driving feature known as Autopilot and the driver’s hands hadn’t been detected on the wheel for six seconds. NTSB then expanded the probe to look at the autonomous driving issues.

The Bloomberg article concluded:

The NTSB, which is also investigating a January Tesla crash near Los Angeles, hasn’t released a preliminary report yet on the Mountain View crash.

After its removal, Tesla accused NTSB of being “more concerned with press headlines than actually promoting safety” and defended its right to warn other drivers to remain engaged while using Autopilot. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Sumwalt’s latest speech.

All of this comes on top of a distressing last month and a half for Tesla, which has seen mainstream media confidence in the name slip and has obviously found the company's CEO under significant amounts of stress and pressure. We commented on Friday morning about a new recent tweet storm that Musk put up to address his antics from the most recent conference call.

Elon Musk's bizarre Wednesday meltdown, when during the conference call he cut off analysts from Bernstein and RBC simply for asking "boring, boneheaded" questions, continued Friday on Twitter, when he personally attacked Bernstein's Toni Sacconaghi and RBC's Joe Spak, accusing them of "trying to justify their Tesla short thesis" and working against the interest of (bullish) investors.

Some blame "Russians" when things don't go their way, others find blame with "sell-side" analysts who are "trying to justify their Tesla short thesis." And for the record, Tesla fell 5.6% to close Thursday at $284.45, just above Sacconaghi's $265 price target and almost in line with Spak's, who sees the shares falling to $280.

Of course, Musk's latest display of petulant anger, which naturally spares such analysts as Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas who have idiotically high price targets, merely indicates that Musk has no idea how this works at all: sellside analysts don't do anything to justify a thesis, whether long or short, that's what buyside analysts are for; what the sellside does is serve as conduits to arrange management meetings.

And in the case of RBC and Bernstein, they clearly won't be doing that any time soon – and certainly won't be invited to participate in any upcoming Tesla stock offering – so at least their analysis is credible, which may be what most angered Musk.

Actually, no, what infuriated Musk is that Tesla shares had their biggest drop in more than a month on Thursday after the earnings call, in which Musk said the questions “are so dry,” and turned instead to one from a channel on the YouTube video-streaming service; he also urged 'daytrading' retail investors to sell the stock if they don't believe the long-term vision of the company.

On Thursday, the day after the conference call, Tesla shares fell from post-result highs of about $310 to about $285 – but rebounded on a squeeze Friday, set to close around $295.

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