Tesla's Future Depends on the Real Elon Musk

August 6, 2018

By Brigette Webb

Tesla's stock is one of the most divisive on Wall Street, with bulls who subscribe wholeheartedly to CEO Elon Musk's vision and a legion of short sellers who say the electric carmaker is in for a rude financial awakening.

The company's second quarter earnings only widened the rift. Tesla posted a record net loss of more than $717 million on revenue of $4 billion. Musk vowed that Tesla would post its first quarterly profit this fall.

Galileo Russell, the founder of HyperChange TV, who also owns 60 Tesla shares, said Monday during a Cheddar roundtable discussion of Tesla's future that he has faith in Musk's outlook.

"I'm a long-term investor, this is a growth story," Russell said. "They are trying to double or triple production in a year, so they are losing money, it's not like they are losing money in perpetuity."

Mark Spiegel, the managing member of Stanphyl Capital, said he's less optimistic.

"They can't turn a profit the way they are," Spiegel said on Cheddar. "They have an insatiable need for cash, they will never be cash-flow positive until they stop growing."

The company's financials are not the only open question ー Musk's leadership is a big variable.

The outspoken CEO berated analysts in the company's first-quarter earnings call, and tried to atone for his rude behavior in the second-quarter call.

Though some investors may view his contrition as the start of a new era for Musk and the company, Spiegel said he's not so sure.

"He's 47 years old, tigers don't change their stripes," Spiegel said. "He can put on an act, but we've all seen who the real Elon Musk is plenty of times."

For more on this story, click here.