Tesla sinks after Elon Musk says an employee conducted 'sabotage' and Trump ramps up fears of a trade war (TSLA)

Graham Rapier
Tesla stock price trade war

Markets Insider


Shares of Tesla fell more than 6% in trading Tuesday morning after CEO Elon Musk said an employee conducted "extensive and damaging sabotage" against the company.

"I was dismayed to learn this weekend about a Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations," Musk said in an email obtained by CNBC. "This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties."

The email to all employees came on the heels of another company-wide memo about a small fire in Tesla's Fremont, California factory that shut down its body production line for several hours on Sunday, CNBC reported. Tesla has been racing to meet Musk's goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week at that factory.

Most US automaker stocks fell Tuesday after President Donald Trump ratcheted up fears of a trade war by asking his administration to draw up a new list of $200 billion worth of imported Chinese goods to slap with a 10% tax.

The proposed tariffs come after China responded by matching the US's preciously announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods set to be enacted on July 9. Tesla sold more than $2 billion worth of cars in China in 2017, accounting for nearly 20% of its total revenue. 

Tesla revenue by country 2017 annual report

Tesla

Despite Tuesday's slump, shares of Tesla have seen a significant rally in June, rising more than 20% after Musk promised that the "short burn of the century" would come soon. The stock last week passed Wall Street's average price target of $317 for the first time in months following news of extensive layoffs and restructuring. Yet Wall Street's bulls and bears remain as opposite as ever on Tesla's future.

"Our clients remain highly polarized on the name with the key theme being whether TSLA can execute on a technology-driven innovation strategy in a capital intensive, durable goods, safety-constrained end-market," Colin Rusch, an analyst at Oppenheimer said in a note Tuesday.

Oppenheimer, like other big name firms including Goldman Sachs and UBS, sees Tesla needing to raise money soon, something Musk has repeatedly said the company will not do. He maintains that Tesla will be profitable in 2018.

Tesla is up 8% since the beginning of the year.

Do you work at Tesla or have other information to share? Confidentially email this reporter at grapier@businessinsider.com.

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