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Tesla stock drops as Elon Musk gives bizarre earnings call

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Elon Musk speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

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Elon Musk speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

Shares in Tesla took a nosedive in after-hours trading today as Elon Musk cut off analysts during a first-quarter earnings call. He dismissed a question about gross margins from Bernstein senior analyst Toni Sacconaghi as “boring.” Instead, Musk and other executives answered multiple questions from a Tesla enthusiast and Youtuber named Gali Russell.

The 25-year-old retail investor tweeted at Elon Musk on Monday, seeking to ask him a “crowdsourced” question during Wednesday’s conference call. Instead of a single question, Russell was able to ask several.

The stock drop may have become apparent around the time when Musk cut off analysts on the call. However, the company’s first-quarter update has also stoked concerns over Tesla’s cash burn and how, exactly, it will improve margins while ramping Model 3 production.

On the first-quarter call, CEO Elon Musk also promised a “reorganization” this month. He said:

“I’m feeling quite confident about hitting positive cash flow in Q3. This is not a certainty. It does appear quite likely in my view. We are going to conduct a reorganization, restructuring of the company this month and make sure we are well set up to achieve that goal. In particular the number of third-party companies we’re using has gotten out of control. We’re going to scrub the barnacles on that front.”

In answering questions from Gali Russell, Musk also revealed that Model Y production is not expected to begin for another two years, and that the vehicle won’t be produced at Tesla’s main, Fremont, Calif. factory.

Musk said, “We will not be starting production of the Model Y at the end of next year. It’s probably closer to 24 months from now, 2020… We could not fit the Model Y production at Fremont. We’re jammed to the gills here. One thing I know for sure is it’s not here.”

Musk’s own compensation is tied to Tesla’s stock price.

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PM Giuseppe Conte wins Senate vote, leads minority government

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Netflix (NFLX) Q4 2020 earnings

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Biden’s incoming CDC director says Trump administration ‘muzzled’ scientists

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Rochelle Walensky, who has been nominated to serve as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks after US President-elect Joe Biden announced his team tasked with dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on December 8, 2020.

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Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who were sidelined by the Trump administration during the Covid-19 pandemic will “get heard again,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden‘s pick to lead the agency, said Tuesday.

Last year, the CDC went months without addressing the U.S. public after Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned in February that schools and businesses may have to close to contain the coronavirus.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this could be bad,” Messonnier said in prescient remarks that sent markets reeling and reportedly irked President Donald Trump.

Throughout the pandemic, Trump has continued to clash with the nation’s top scientists, including current CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, publicly contradicting him on issues such as the Covid-19 vaccine timeline.

Walensky vowed to restore the public voice of the CDC and its scientists.

“They have been diminished. I think they’ve been muzzled. That science hasn’t been heard,” she told The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner on Tuesday. “This top-tier agency, world renowned, hasn’t really been appreciated over the last four years and really markedly over the last year, so I have to fix that.”

Walensky said she intends to revamp the CDC’s communications efforts under the Biden administration. That could include regular briefings led by Walensky or subject matter experts to explain scientific research published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, she said. She added that it will likely also mean a more concerted plan to engage the public on social media.

“Science is now conveyed through Twitter. Science is conveyed on social media, on podcasts and in many different ways, and I think that’s critical,” Walensky said. “We have to have a social media plan for the agency.”

She said bolstering the agency’s presence on social media will be particularly important as the country combats vaccine hesitancy. Misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines is prevalent on social media, she said, adding that the agency needs to get “the right information” out.

Over the past year, communications from the CDC have often been at odds with those from the White House. The agency revised guidance on reopening churches and religious sites after Trump urged state officials to allow houses of worship to reopen. And over the summer, Trump installed longtime ally and former campaign official Michael Caputo as top spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s parent department, in an effort to better align messaging with the White House.

Caputo and his team tried to undermine CDC scientists, pressuring them to revise scientific research that ran afoul of guidance pushed by the White House, internal emails obtained by House lawmakers show. Walensky said Tuesday she will make sure the CDC communicates transparently with the American people regardless of the political consequences.

“That I have to fix immediately,” she said.

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