Guess who just hammered Tesla’s shares. Hint: he works for the company and has ‘Chief’ in the title

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Updated: July 18, 2017 7:32:37 PM

Tesla Motors’ shares have run up close to 50% this year, buoyant on expectations of high sales volumes of the company’s recently launched car called ‘Model 3’, which is its first mass-market vehicle.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said the share price is high, after which it fell over 3% on Monday. (Image: Reuters)

When a company’s CEO himself doesn’t have confidence in its share price, the market heeds the advice. This is what happened with Tesla Motors, whose celebrated CEO Elon Musk unceremoniously brought down the company’s shares by as much as 3% in one fell swoop by calling the share price ‘high’. His subsequent efforts to salvage the stock price, and its reputation, failed with Tesla Motors’ (Tesla Inc) shares still languishing down 2.5% at Monday’s close.

Elon Musk said at a conference over the weekend that Tesla’s stock price is “higher than we have any right to deserve”. “I find it quite tough when there are very high expectations… I try to tamp down those expectations,” Elon Musk said, adding, “The stock reflects a lot of optimism about where Tesla will be in the future.” In the very next trading session on Monday, Tesla Motors’ shares plummeted, falling 3.21% in the early morning trade on Monday to a low of $314.2 on the NASDAQ. Shares recovered later a little and ended at $319.6.

Saving grace

Elon Musk tried to clarify his statement on Monday by saying that Tesla Motors’ share price is still low considering the future prospects of the company, and that he had called it ‘high’ only in the context of its past value. “I should clarify: Tesla stock is obviously high based on past & present, but low if you believe in Tesla’s future. Place bets accordingly …” Elon Musk tweeted on Monday in response to the news articles about the falling share price.

Tesla Motors’ shares have given stellar performance in 2017 and are up 47% since the beginning of this year. This is despite a bear run on the stock in late June-early July, during which period it fell as much as about 20%.

Off the road

Meanwhile, some analysts believe that a separate incident involving a Tesla car crash might have also contributed to Monday’s fall in the share price. There were conflicting reports on whether the car’s autopilot was on or not when it rolled off the road in Minnesota on Sunday, with four people in it. All escaped with minor injuries, according to news reports.

But Fortune magazine said citing information from analytics firm Social Market Analytics that Elon Musk’s tweet influenced Tesla Motors’ shares more than the car crash. Unlike several other company chieftains, Elon Musk quite freely comments on the company’s share prices, and is often accurate. In the past too, Tesla Motors’ shares fell when he said that it would not be crazy to short the stock. Before this, when he had said that the short sellers on Tesla Motors are in for a “tsunami of hurt”, share prices had jumped.

Tesla Motors’ shares are buoyant this year on expectations of high sales volumes of the company’s recently launched car called ‘Model 3’, which is its first mass-market vehicle. Tesla hopes to produce 20,000 Model 3s per month by the end of the year.

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