‘The enemy is inside of Tesla,’ Wall Street analyst warns on Elon Musk

The uber-busy Elon Musk is still a key risk to the successful running of Tesla (TSLA) that investors shouldn’t lose sight of, warned Jefferies analyst Phillippe Houchois.

“We have published research many times in the past where we say the enemy is inside of Tesla,” Houchois said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Musk is an incredible driving force, but he is also the one that brings unnecessary risk, in a way, to the situation.”

The prickly billionaire reminded investors of that risk at times on Tesla’s earnings call late Wednesday, really only showing signs of his trademark exuberance when discussing artificial intelligence.

That’s not surprising given that Musk has been kept busy by efforts to reduce debt at Twitter, appearances in court, studying rocket designs, and staying up late with the Tesla AI team the day before the call.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk smiles during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

While Musk did his best to sound enthusiastic about Tesla’s business, he warned of a “severe” recession this year. He then announced Cybertruck production will be delayed until the summer, with “volume production” commencing in 2024. The company’s volume growth guidance for 2023 of 38% was also below a long-term target of 50%.

Navigating all these uncertainties would be a tall order for a single CEO, let alone one that lives multiple lives across multiple companies.

At the same time, to Houchois’s point, Musk’s commentary on the call underscored his magic touch at Tesla.

The company will finally get in the electric truck game this year with the Cybertruck (even if it’s delayed a bit). Electric semi trucks have begun to ship to customers such as PepsiCo (PEP). And recent price cuts on various models appear to be igniting demand.

Tesla shares rose about 9% during Thursday’s session as investors zeroed in on the positives for the Tesla story.

“With Twitter noise starting to slowly dissipate and the demand story roaring out of the gates in 2023 despite a darker macro [economy], we walk away from this call incrementally more bullish on Tesla into 2023,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a client note.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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