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Tesla's April Fool's Day

Tesla TSLA founder and CEO Elon Musk used yesterday’s April Fool’s Day to make light of last week’s report of a hedge fund manager at Vilas Capital declaring the electric vehicle leader “…(W)ithout any doubt… on the verge of bankruptcy.” Musk responded in a series of April Fool’s tweets that Tesla was “so bankrupt, you can't believe it,” along with a picture of the founder passed out at the fender of a Tesla with a cardboard sign reading “Bankwupt.”

Well, this guy’s not considered a genius for nothing. That said, Tesla has endured its worst month in a long time: -22% in the month of March, pulling its year-over-year performance into negative territory: -4%. Shares are down another 3.5% in this morning’s pre-market, which is showing futures in the red across all major U.S. indexes.

Keeping Tesla’s negative headlines at the fore, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), still engaged in investigations regarding an autopilot freeway crash in California a week and a half ago and a driverless Tesla striking and killing a pedestrian the week prior to that, chastised Tesla for speaking up with details regarding the freeway crash. The company said the driver of the Model X had at least 5 seconds to put his hands on the wheel and correct the autopilot trajectory that sent the vehicle into a concrete embankment. The NTSB said it was “unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla,” clearly not appreciative of the company providing their side of the story before the investigation is complete.

Many of Tesla’s naysayers do not question Musk’s brilliance or the performance of Tesla vehicles; what they do openly question is the company’s massive market cap — $45 billion, higher than Ford’s F $44 billion — along with the near-constant disappointment in delivery figures for new Tesla vehicles. Analysts still do not think Tesla will be meeting its guidance for Q1 (deliveries will be reported prior to Q1 earnings later this month), and these new difficulties are further hampering the company’s brand in this morning’s headline news cycle.

We do note that Tesla’s ability to bounce back from bearish sentiment is historically quite good: following “bad” months, TSLA shares average trading back up 19% in the following month. Guidance on deliveries will likely be key here, although it is also worth pointing out that, unlike a company like Ford or General Motors GM, Tesla not only builds electric cars but looks to shift the overall fueling systems of household and commercial vehicles, including solar-powered shingles that connect to a garage battery which fuels the EVs, and the largest battery factory system (gigafactory) in the world.

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