Tesla Declines After Einhorn Questions Musk’s Accounting
Tesla Inc. shares closed 10% below their intraday high after hedge fund manager David Einhorn publicly questioned Elon Musk again over the electric-car maker’s accounting practices.
Einhorn, who five months ago told Musk he was “beginning to wonder whether your accounts receivable exist,” said Tesla had claimed in the past that its balance of money owed was elevated by sales being highly concentrated at the end of each quarter. The Greenlight Capital president questioned how that could have been the case at the end of March given the shutdowns that Musk, 48, excoriated on Wednesday.
“Can you or Zack explain?” Einhorn, 51, wrote in a tweet to addressed to Musk and referring to Tesla’s chief financial officer, Zachary Kirkhorn. Einhorn also asked how the company’s automotive margins “barely budged” despite production disruptions, the cost of ramping up the new Model Y and other factors.
Tesla shares closed down 2.3% after erasing an intraday gain of as much as 8.7%.
Tesla disclosed in a regulatory filing Thursday that one unidentified entity represented 10% or more of its accounts-receivable balance as of March 31. The contribution was related to sales of regulatory credits, the Palo Alto, California-based company said.
Revenue from the emissions credits Tesla sells to other automakers surged to $354 million last quarter, a sum that exceeded the company’s $227 million adjusted net income. The maker of the Model 3 sells credits to manufacturers who need them to comply with environmental standards that are getting stricter in most markets around the world.
Einhorn built his reputation by challenging the accounting practices of lender Allied Capital starting in 2002, which paid off along with his prediction that Lehman Brothers would fail before the bank went bankrupt in 2008.
But betting against Tesla has been less productive, with the shares having tripled in the past year. Musk has taunted Einhorn by claiming he’d send a box of short shorts and host a tour of the carmaker’s facilities. The CEO apparently hasn’t followed through on the idea.
“I guess the offer of a factory tour was never serious,” Einhorn said in his latest tweet.
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