Tesla CEO Elon Musk apparently said Friday morning on Twitter that his company’s stock price is “too high,” and he appeared to criticize government-ordered shutdowns due to the coronavirus.
While Tesla observers scrambled to assess whether Musk’s tweets were authentic or whether his account had been hacked, investors took the development seriously. Tesla’s stock was down 11.5% to $692.14 at 12:02 p.m.
The company’s shares had more than doubled from their coronavirus low of $350.51 on March 18.
Production at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, has been shut down for weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But first-quarter sales of the company’s electric cars were solid, as Tesla posted a stronger-than-expected earnings report Wednesday, which helped drive gains in the stock price.
Tesla representatives did not immediately respond to a request seeking confirmation of or comment on Musk’s tweets.
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Musk has been critical of the coronavirus response in recent weeks, repeatedly questioning the seriousness of the pandemic and saying Americans should be allowed to go out.
“Now give people back their FREEDOM,” he said Friday in one of a flurry of posts, including tweets quoting snippets of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
His tweets came on the same day that shutdown critics are planning protests throughout California.
Musk also claimed he’s planning to sell “almost all my physical possessions” and “will own no house.” Musk has been known to crash on his friends’ couches in the past as he transitions between his two main companies, Tesla and SpaceX.
Musk has been known to post bizarre tweets and make comments that would seem strange coming from most heads of major corporations.
In August 2018, he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private for $420 per share. But it was later revealed that Tesla had not officially secured any financing for such a deal and Musk relinquished his chairmanship as a result of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe that required him to get the company’s approval for any market-moving tweets.
It was not immediately clear Friday whether Musk had authorization to tweet about the company’s stock price. SEC representatives did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
His criticism of the coronavirus lockdowns fall in line with his recent comments on the matter.
“To say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom,” he said Wednesday on an earnings call.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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