Mike Blake | Reuters
Tesla shares closed at $265.25 on Friday, Sept. 30. At market’s close one week later, Tesla shares were trading at $223.07, a decline of nearly 16%. It was the worst week for the stock since Mar. 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic began to grip the U.S., shutting down businesses and public life.
Over the weekend, Tesla reported electric vehicle production and delivery numbers that did not meet analysts’ expectations.
On Monday, Musk proceeded to stir up a political firestorm by opining about how he thought Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine should be resolved.
After that, public records revealed that Musk had informed the Delaware Chancery Court that he would complete a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in October, a deal he had been trying to evade for months.
According to estimates compiled by FactSet-owned Street Account, analysts had been expecting Tesla to report deliveries of 364,660 cars for the period ending September 30, 2022.
But last weekend, Tesla reported deliveries of 343,000 total, and production of 365,000 electric cars — despite having started production at two new factories in Brandenburg, Germany, and Austin, Texas.
Analysts wondered if Tesla now faces demand erosion in China, where it is facing the steepest competition from BYD, the Warren Buffet-backed lithium ion battery and electric vehicle maker.
Tesla also held an engineer recruiting event late on Friday last week in which it trotted out a rough, early prototype of a humanoid robot and talked about remaining challenges and progress in developing self-driving technology that can turn its cars into robotaxis with a software update.
The robot demo failed to impress industry insiders but its potential captivated some fans and bullish analysts.
On Monday, Musk posted a Twitter poll gauging support for what he claimed was a likely outcome of the seven-month conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
He suggested new UN-supervised votes in Ukraine on whether certain divisions of the democratic nation under siege should join Russia. He also suggested Ukraine should cede Crimea to Russia, and that the nation should then remain “neutral” rather than aligning with either NATO or Russia.
The Kremlin praised Musk, but he drew sharp criticism from many others including Ukraine President Zelenskyy, Ukraine ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham and anti-Putin human rights activist and former chess champion Garry Kasparov.
Kasparov, who sought to block Putin’s rise to power and was jailed and beaten for his activism before fleeing the country, described Musk’s plan as a “repetition of Kremlin propaganda.”
While Musk originally agreed to buy Twitter in April 2022, he spent months after that accusing the company of lying about its user metrics in financial filings, while fighting in court to get out of the deal he proposed.
Twitter had sued Musk to make sure the deal would go ahead as promised, seeing a windfall for its shareholders. Facing a deposition this week, and with a trial start-date looming, Musk sent a letter to Twitter and the court this week saying he would take the company private at $54.20 per share after all. He wanted Twitter, or the court, to stay the litigation, and a judge gave him until October 28th to wrap up the deal or proceed to trial.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO may have to sell another chunk of his shares of Tesla to finance the Twitter acquisition. He will only be able to do so on or after Oct.19, when the electric vehicle maker reports its third-quarter earnings.
Despite his volatile week, Musk at least notched a historic professional achievement at his re-usable rocket venture, SpaceX. The company launched four people to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Wednesday.
The mission is SpaceX’s fifth operational crew launch for NASA to date and the company’s eighth human spaceflight in just over two years. One of the people to fly with SpaceX on this latest mission is Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
Musk also boasted about the start of production of the years-delayed Tesla Semi, a heavy-duty all-electric truck, and promised that the company would deliver some of the trucks to Pepsi by Dec. 1.