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How can you not love Elon Musk? The investor, engineer, and all-around awesome dude is known for his high-profile publicity stunts as much as his groundbreaking research and development projects. I mean, dude shot a red Tesla convertible into orbit with a Space X rocket complete with a spacesuit-clad mannequin for a driver – just to prove he can. Musk and his companies are on the verge of redefining transportation of all kinds, from spaceflight to underground hyperloops to electric cars. Still, Musk isn’t without his critics. Many cautions investor-types feel Musk can go to far, as in the case of last week’s bizarre Q1 earnings conference call. To silence critics, Musk has now bought up nearly $10 million of Tesla stock in what is being described as an “unusual” purchase. What is Elon up to?
The story began last week when Tesla opened its quarterly conference call to discuss earnings and future plans with investors, analysts, and shareholders. Of particular interest was how Tesla would respond to several high-profile fatal accidents lately involving its vehicles’ autonomous Autopilot systems. Tesla has been selling the system for years under the promise that it will soon be operational, a promise which has so far been unfulfilled.
Questions then turned to more banal topics about future earnings, which Musk then refused to answer, calling them “boring,” “bonehead,” and “not cool.” Following those refusals, shares of Tesla fell 5.6% in just a few hours. “I’ve never heard a call like that,” Jeffrey Osborne, a Cowen analyst told CNNMoney. “I’ve heard people tap-dance around questions. But to berate people and call them ‘bonehead.’ That was a first for me.”
To show these haters that he’s not worried about Wall Street short sellers or his company’s cash flow, Musk this week bought $9.85 million worth of Tesla stock, a purchase CNNMoney calls “unusual.” Musk was already the company’s largest single shareholder, owning around 22$ of Tesla’s shares. This latest purchase increased his stake by less than 0.01%. Musk has been known to taunt short sellers on Twitter in the past, warning them that stock is quickly running out. Is Musk just trying to free up more of his own company’s stock?