Elon Musk has Tesla investors fuming over his decision to unload $4 billion worth of stock onto an unsuspecting market, with key supporters warning the entrepreneur's own credibility is now on the line.
Wedbush Securities tech analyst and longtime Tesla bull Dan Ives complained on Wednesday that Musk threw investors a curveball and called the CEO "the boy who cried wolf" for claiming on numerous occasions, most recently in August, he was done selling stock.
It's a kick in the teeth for those who bought shares last month following his grand vision that Tesla would one day be worth more than Apple and Saudi energy giant Aramco combined.
As if that wasn't enough, he also held out the promise of a sizable stock buyback next year during the Q3 earnings call.
Ives has been critical of the Twitter deal, calling it one of the most overpaid in the tech sector's history. The confirmation of his fears that Musk wasn't done secretly dumping stock proved what a "never-ending Twitter albatross" Tesla shareholders had around their collective neck, he argued.
"The Twitter circus show has been an absolute debacle from all angles since Musk bought the platform," wrote the Wedbush analyst. "When does it end?"
Musk's more trusting supporters felt it was safe to assume he had raised all the money he needed to buy Twitter since no SEC filings to the contrary emerged in recent days.
"Turns out, Elon was not done selling his Tesla stock," Loup Funds managing partner Gene Munster wrote rather meekly late on Tuesday. The Tesla bull argued that he's "preparing for Twitter to be a money hole for the next year."
Many who have been paying attention anticipated Musk would be looking for any opportunity to sell into strength.
The Tesla CEO could only sell shares after the company published its full quarterly results, giving him little time to raise the billions he still needed for Twitter.
'Twitter madness needs to end now'
The good news about the stock sale for Tesla shareholders is twofold.
First, Musk didn't need to reveal his sales yesterday: SEC rules allowed him to hold off longer with the announcement for another two days. The fact that he didn't suggests that he may well be telegraphing to investors he is through-for the immediate future at least.
Second, and more important, the fundamentals of the company appear to remain solid, unlike what is often the case when insiders sell.
Vehicle sales volumes continue to soar, increasing at a forecast 50% annual rate even as operating expenses remain firmly rooted to the floor. Next year Musk believes he can achieve a similar rate of growth to hit roughly 2 million cars sold.
For bulls waiting on the sidelines with spare cash that can still be deployed, picking up shares at a 52-week low is a relative bargain assuming the Twitter deal doesn't prove too distracting.
Still Ives, who has an outperform rating and $300 price target on Tesla, warned investor faith is not something Musk should take lightly, let alone squander needlessly on Twitter.
"Musk needs to look in the mirror and end this constant merry-go-round of Twitter overhang on the Tesla story," the Wedbush securities analyst concluded. "This Twitter madness needs to end now."
Shares in Tesla traded 2.3% lower at $187 during a broadly weaker session for tech stocks on Wednesday.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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