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Tesla’s ‘day of reckoning’ is near as its plunging stock increases risk

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Tesla’s big stock drop this month will have negative implications for its ability to raise critically-needed funds, according to Wall Street analysts.

The company’s shares declined 22 percent in March on concerns over a fatal car crash in California last week and worries over its Model 3 production rate. Tesla’s 5.3 percent bond, issued last August and maturing in 2025, also fell 4 percent to 87.25 cents Wednesday with a yield of 7.6 percent, according to FactSet. The bond’s price declined 8 percent this month.

Morgan Stanley on Wednesday warned Tesla shareholders the stock’s fall could be a “self-fulfilling” prophecy for further declines.

“A lower share price begets a lower share price … For a company widely expected to continue to fund its strategy through external capital raises, a fall in the share price can take on a self-fulfilling nature that further exacerbates the volatility of the share price,” analyst Adam Jonas wrote.

Jonas said the company needs to accelerate its rate of Model 3 production if it wants to raise funds at an attractive price for the company.

“The precise timing of when Tesla can achieve a 2,500/week and then a 5,000/week production run-rate for its mass market sedan can make the difference between whether Tesla is potentially raising capital from a position of weakness at a price near our $175 bear case or whether it can access capital from a position of strength with a stock price near our $561 bull case,” he wrote.

Another financial firm is already pessimistic over Telsa’s Model 3 manufacturing capability.

Moody’s downgraded Tesla’s credit ratings after the close Tuesday and changed the outlook to negative from stable, citing the “significant shortfall” in the Model 3 production rate and its tight financial situation.

Tesla had $3.4 billion in cash or cash equivalents at year end 2017. The company lost nearly $2 billion last year and burned about $3.4 billion in cash after capital investments.

Given the company’s cash burn rate and how it has $230 million of debt due in Nov. 2018 and another $920 million in Mar. 2019, Moody’s believes the company has to raise new capital soon.

Tesla “faces liquidity pressures due to its large negative free cash flow and the pending maturities of convertible bonds,” the Moody’s release said Tuesday. “The negative outlook reflects the likelihood that Tesla will have to undertake a large, near-term capital raise in order to refund maturing obligations and avoid a liquidity short-fall.”

Some investors are betting against Tesla, citing its financial liquidity issues and cash burn woes.

“The losses and heavy capital spending are expected to continue this year. Over the next twelve months Tesla also has $1.2 billion in convertible bonds coming due,” Fred Hickey, editor of High Tech Strategist, wrote in an email Wednesday. “In other words, Tesla has an enormous need for more cash and yet some are beginning to lose confidence in the company as witnessed by the recent Moody’s debt downgrade and sharp selloff in Tesla bonds. It looks like a day of reckoning may be ahead.”

Hickey owns Tesla put options.

One hedge fund manager believes Tesla’s business model is permanently broken.

“Tesla represents a financially non-viable business. It has an upside-down balance sheet. The multi-billion cash burn is massive with no end in sight,” Accipiter Capital’s Gabe Hoffman wrote in an email Wednesday. “The financial need for Tesla to issue massive amounts of new equity has been glaringly obvious for quite some time.”

Hoffman cited the recent departures of Tesla executives such as its chief accounting officer in early March.

“This is an incredibly ominous sign, which I believe confirms my thesis,” he wrote. “Tesla is our fund’s largest short position. We have not covered a single share on this decline.”

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

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‘Risk of civil unrest’ around election

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the company has been taking steps to address the increased risk of potential civil unrest associated with the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

“I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,” Zuckerberg said on a call discussing Facebook’s third-quarter earnings. “Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before.”

Zuckerberg noted steps that Facebook has taken in response to this increased risk. This includes helping users register to vote, providing users with accurate information about the election, banning new political ads one week prior to the election, blocking ads that try to delegitimize the election results and banning problematic content, such as groups focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory and Holocaust denialism.

“This is not a shift in our underlying philosophy or strong support of free expression,” Zuckerberg said. “Instead it is a reflection of the increased risk of violence and unrest.”

Facebook is not alone in these concerns. Walmart on Thursday also removed guns and ammunition from sales floors in stores where those items had been displayed because of isolated incidents of “civil unrest” in some areas around the U.S.

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Dow futures fall more than 300 points as Apple and Amazon shares decline after earnings

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U.S. stock futures fell in early morning trading Friday after some of the technology heavyweights came under pressure following their quarterly reports.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 355 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 also traded in negative territory.

Shares of Apple fell more than 4% in extended trading after the tech giant reported a 16% decline in iPhone sales and failed to offer investors any guidance for the quarter ahead. Amazon dipped 1.87% even after the e-commerce giant reported blowout third-quarter results with a big beat on the top line.

Wall Street staged a modest rebound on Thursday on the back of better-than-expected U.S. gross domestic product and jobless claim data. The 30-stock Dow gained more than 100 points for its first positive day in five, while the S&P 500 rose 1.2% to snap a three-day losing streak. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.6%.

Still, major averages are on pace to post their worst weekly performance in months. The Dow is down 5.9% week to date, on pace for its worst week since March 20. The S&P 500 has fallen 4.5% this week, headed for its worst week since June 12.

Volatility remained elevated as investors grappled with rising new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and abroad. The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), also known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” touched a high of 41.2 Thursday, its highest level since June 15.

“Pre-election market volatility is not unusual and has arisen around swirling questions about elections, COVID-19, and economic and earnings growth,” Paul Christopher, Wells Fargo’s head of global market strategy, said in a note Thursday. “This indigestion triggered declines in the S&P 500 Index.”

The Dow and the S&P 500 are also set to post their second straight month of losses as Wall Street wraps up a turbulent October. The 30-stock average is down 4% this month, and the S&P 500 has lost 1.5%. The Nasdaq outperformed, rising just 0.2% in the same period.

Shares of Alphabet soared more than 7% in extended trading after the Google parent company posted quarterly results that topped Wall Street expectations. Meanwhile, Twitter dropped more than 14% after the social media company reported user growth that fell short of expectations.

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Amazon (AMZN) earnings Q3 2020

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