Musk-Einhorn Twitter War Erupts After Greenlight Responds To Tesla CEO’s Taunts
Update (1430ET): Just hours after Elon Musk’s snarky response to David Einhorn’s “fraud” allegations, the hedge fund manager has tweeted a well-reasoned response.
I am glad that you read our October letter and would like to discuss it. You say we “made numerous false allegations against Tesla.”
Could you be specific? Can you point to at least one sentence that is false and refute it with facts? We certainly are capable of making mistakes and if we said anything false, we will correct it for the record. Facts do matter to us. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have entire websites like https://elonmusk.todav chronicling your untruths.
Our businesses have some similarities and some differences. We both struggled last year. However, a key difference is that Greenlight’s business has generated real profits for our investors since we began in 1996. Tesla’s business financials reflect a decade of annual losses and an accumulated deficit of over $6 billion, despite billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.
As for our short of Tesla, it’s fluctuated. In a multi-year bull market, it hasn’t performed badly. By continually changing the narrative and narrowly averting crisis after crisis, you certainly have kept it interesting. We shall see what happens from here.
We welcome your offer to let us learn more about Tesla and will take you up on it. This is a stark contrast from Tesla’s prior position, as your IR Team has refused several requests from us to converse directly and answer our questions.
I think facility visits would be fun (can we start in Buffalo?). I might learn the difference between your alien dreadnought factory and cars made by hand in a tent.
The truth is we are much more interested in, and have many questions about, your financial statements. Perhaps, we could spend time together with your CFO, Zach Kirkhorn.
As an example, my understanding of auto sales is that car buyers don’t typically drive off the lot without paying for the car. Publicly-traded auto dealers have only a couple days of accounts receivable balances. Yet, Tesla is owed over $1 billion by its customers. With customers paying up front, why are the balances so high? In September 2018, you said the receivables doubled up because the quarter ended on a Sunday. That answer wasn’t very satisfying at the time. This year, the quarter ended on a weekday. Sales are lower than they were a year ago and yet, the receivables stayed high. We are curious.
We have dozens of questions like that.
I truly appreciate your offer to build a direct communication so we can learn more about Tesla. Please advise on how we should go about scheduling. And have a nice weekend.
We suspect this is far from over.
* * *
Emboldened by Tesla’s stock rising nearly 100% off its 52 week lows (and who knows what else), Elon Musk took to Twitter at about midnight Pacific Time to once again taunt short Tesla short sellers. This time it was Greenlight’s David Einhorn that drew his ire. Responding to a Tweet of a Zero Hedge article that contained an except from Einhorn’s Q3 investor letter, Musk copied and pasted his own letter back to Einhorn, referring to him as “Mr. Unicorn”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 8, 2019
Musk started off maturely, with a pun on “Mr. Unicorn’s” name, saying his Tesla bashing was just “saving face” with his investors. He then mocked Einhorn’s performance, noting his “sharp drop in assets under management”.
Dear Mr. Unicorn (fabulous name btw),
We read your Greenlight Capital Q3’19 Investor Letter, in which you make numerous false allegations against Tesla. It is understandable that you wish to save face with your investors, given the losses you suffered from Tesla’s successful third quarter, especially since you’ve had several down years in performance and a sharp drop in assets under management from $15 billion to $5 billion. You have our sympathies.
Musk then states that Einhorn has a “desire to feel somehow relevant” with his Tesla short at a time when other short sellers have been “recoiling from the public discourse”.
We also recognize your desire to feel somehow relevant with your Tesla short position at a time when your friends in the Tesla short community have been noticeably recoiling from the public discourse, as the world is increasingly recognizing Tesla’s contributions to science, safety and a sustainable environment.
Finally, he invites Einhorn to meet him and tour Tesla’s facilities. “I’m certain your investors would appreciate you getting smart on Tesla,” Musk says, before offering to send Einhorn more “short shorts”:
To the extent that you have any desire to learn about the amazing progress the people of Tesla are making, I would like to extend an open invitation to meet with me to discuss Tesla and tour our facilities. For their sake, I’m certain your investors would appreciate you getting smart on Tesla. Finally, please allow us to send you a small gift of short shorts to help you through this difficult time.
Musk signed his letter “Treelon Musk” and appended a “kiss” emoji to the Tweet that he attached it to.
The responses from FinTwit ranged from the usual fawning admiration, to genuine confusion to hilarity:
Fighting shorts again in the middle of the night. Thanks for the bat signal. https://t.co/lV9SfB5yUe
— Keubiko (@Keubiko) November 8, 2019
Tesla skeptic Glenn Tongue responded by pointing out that Einhorn’s letter didn’t really have as much content on Tesla in it as it normally does. Regardless, it was enough to trigger Musk:
It’s an interesting note from musk. Greenlights letter only has two paragraphs on Tesla, and there are no unproven allegations. Musks unprovoked assertion of false allegations is another example of staring at the floorboards.
— Glenn Tongue (@glenntongue) November 8, 2019
Other FinTwit members called Musk’s bluff:
You’re literally the world’s worst poker player. Everyone can see your worthless hand and you’re trying to bluff the table like you have aces. Thanks for sweeting the pot idiot.
— ArtkoCapital (@ArtkoCapital) November 8, 2019
The Wall Street Journal’s Charley Grant weighed in with some inconvenient truths:
Tesla is going to lose money for the 16th year in a row and sales just rolled over.
— Charley Grant (@CGrantWSJ) November 8, 2019
Chris DeMuth Jr. of Rangeley Capital noted that Greenlight was edging out the S&P 500 this year, while Tesla isn’t even up 1% YTD:
The brag:bps ratio is getting pretty high on this one. pic.twitter.com/OyZWYzWQmU
— Chris DeMuth Jr (@ChrisDeMuthJr) November 8, 2019
And (of course), Electrek editor Fred Lambert called Musk’s outburst a “smart move” and said Einhorn is “kinda obligated to accept”:
That’s a smart move because he is kinda obligated to accept. He has a responsibility to his investors to maintain a position based on the best information available to them and refusing to meet CEO and visit the company would be against that. I can see Einhorn being convinced.
— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) November 8, 2019
As a reminder, as we pointed out first earlier this week, Einhorn wrote in his latest letter that his Tesla short was a “material loser”, and proceeded to accuse Elon Musk of orchestrating “significant fraud”:
Finally, to the surprise of nobody, documents in TSLA’s SolarCity litigation unsealed in September showed that Elon Musk knowingly orchestrated a significant fraud by arranging the $2.6 billion acquisition at a time when SolarCity was insolvent. Musk and his family had a huge conflict of interest, but rather than properly recusing himself, Musk initiated the transaction and drove the process. SolarCity was so cash-strapped, it was trying to delay payments to vendors after parts were delivered and the vendors had recognized the revenue; SolarCity could not raise any funds at reasonable rates from third parties; and Musk engineered the unveiling of the Solar Roof tile to convince TSLA’s shareholders to approve the deal, even though the product did not exist at the time.
As was the case with Musk’s extraordinary “funding secured” tweet last year, we believe this level of trampling of standard processes of corporate governance, ignoring methods to deal with related party transactions and self-dealing should lead to substantial consequences. For now, the accepted reality appears to be that Elon Musk is above the law.
The ball is now in David’s court:
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 8, 2019