#elonmusk

Brain dead award the brainwashed

GQ Magazine has awarded Greta Thunberg with its Game Changer Of The Year award. Can we cynically argue that GQ is hijacking the stardom of the 16yo for their own commercial success?

CM has said for the longest time that she is indeed brave to do what she does and absolutely no criticism lies at her feet. What a shame she is the product of brainwashing from activist teachers and parents. The way political leaders fawn over her. Probably speaks volumes that so many of today’s world leaders have no progeny (France’s Macron – no kids. Former UK PM Theresa May – no kids. The Netherlands PM Mark Rutte – no kids. Swedish PM Kjell Stefan Löfven- no biological kids. Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel – no kids. Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon – no kids. Former EC President Jean-Claude Juncker – no kids, Japan’s PM Abe also has no children) meaning they don’t share the feelings experienced by an overwhelming majority of parents who eye roll whenever their 16yo pretend to be experts on any subject.

At least she channelled Melania Trump for her photoshoot. The ultimate form of irony.

As she sails across the Atlantic to the Americas in a boat part-owned by someone who owns a large chunk of a private helicopter transport fleet, we already knew her impact on a scheduled flight would have given her more face time. Note CM calculated her footprint would amount to 0.0000000000007314% of CO2.

Will organizers be waiting at the docks with a fleet of fossil fuel charged Teslas to whisk her away? As long as she uses the Aland Index to calculate the carbon footprint of her hotel stay to minimize her impact on the environment. If the hotel comps her bill the Aland Index will output zero emissions. For the sake of the planet let’s hope they do.

Tesla is good at digging holes

Tesla shares have rebounded from the $180s so CEO Elon Musk has come out of the woodwork suggesting mining might be on the agenda to lock in its future battery supply.

Tesla might be adept at digging financial holes for itself but we shouldn’t think that will turn it into an efficient miner.

Just typical Musk banter.

Tesla: Catching a falling knife

Tesla is breaking down. So many discipled pundits are looking at the company stock falling into “good value” territory. Good value is always relative. Sadly buying Tesla now is catching a falling knife.

It reminds CM of a time when Fuji Film dominated flat screen TV TAC films. It held 40% market share. Yet the market was shrinking and new competitor products were able to combine two films in one, dispensing with the need for TAC altogether. Yet analysts would crow at 40%. CM said 40% of soon to be nothing will be nothing.

Tesla’s valuation at $180 is ridiculously high compared to other auto manufacturers. Tesla still misses the two most important ingredients to profitable car companies – production efficiency and distribution. It has neither the first and has chopped back on the last. Digital dealerships are just not feasible especially given the nightmare quality or Tesla cars.

Big money is dumping. T Rowe Price has exited. fidelity following suit. Musk’s musings now carry little weight. Promises of stupendous Q2 volumes and making cars with ridiculously short ranges for Canadians to get the benefit of subsidies smacks of desperation.

This company, if it could, is running on the smell of an oily rag. The inability to rally back up above $200 with any conviction is showing the rattled confidence of existing holders. It’s like finding out you’ve been given the employee of the month award from your boss and you’re the only staff member. It carries no significance.

CM holds to the $28 fair value price from the 2017 report. That is CM’s optimistic scenario. So much for funding secured at $420.

Apple to buy Tesla? Is Tim Cook on autopilot?

If Apple truly stumped up for Tesla that would make two companies that are complete novices at auto manufacturing. It would be the Apple Lisa of the auto world.

Worse for Apple it would signal that the world’s largest company is completely out of creative ideas and its existing product line up was truly approaching stall speed. It already is but and the lack of transparency only adds to doubts.

Rumours circulated that Apple considered a $240/share purchase back in 2013. 6 years ago Tesla was full of hope. Now the stock is full of hype. It has been a litany of disasters from fatal crashes, production hell all the way to complete wishful thinking on Level 5 autonomous driving which Israeli company Mobileye, a leader in the field, believes is decades off.

Let’s assume a $240 per share deal was done. Apple would pay around $40bn and assume another $12bn or so in debt.

The most dangerous strategy for highly successful companies is to throw spaghetti at a wall and hope some sticks. Tesla is by no means an overnight repair job. It needs the skills of Toyota to turn it around. Don’t forget Apple has no manufacturing expertise as its products are all built by 3rd parties. Toyota rescued Porsche several decades back and Lockheed Martin called in the production efficiency king to help build the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter better.

It reminds CM of the time Hoya bought Pentax back in 2007. Such was the earnings dilution against the incumbent high margin business, hunting for growth sent Hoya shares down 50% soon after the deal. Hoya was completely dominant in glass photomasks. Yet the $1bn merger of a 2’d tier camera/optics maker was thought of by the founder’s grandson as a total failure and divested many divisions.

Losses continue to mount at Tesla, senior management departures are a revolving door and demand is slowing. The recent cap raise sees investors well under water. The Maxwell Tech deal looks a dud for the management to accept an all share rather than an all share deal (if the tech is so leading edge).

If Apple truly wanted a car deal, it could buy an established maker like Fiat Chrysler with decades of production expertise and global reach for half the price. Not to mention a wide choice of vehicle styles to broaden the appeal to customers.

Although the history of car mergers, even between industry players, has led to some pretty disastrous outcomes. Daimler overpaid for Chrysler so badly that its shares cratered 80%. BMW bought Rover from Honda. Fail. Even Land Rover had to be sold by the Bavarians. Ford ended up selling most of its Premier Automotive Group stable – Aston, Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. Just Lincoln remains.

Tech companies meddling in the automobile sector reveals a graveyard of sad stories. Korean analysts jumped for joy when Bosch sold out its stake in the Li-ion batteries JV SB Li-motive. How could a Korean tech company proclaim to have a better read on the global auto industry than Bosch, a supplier to the major auto makers for over 100 years? Panasonic is already kicking itself hrs over the Tesla deal and management is highly unimpressed with Musk after his disparaging remarks made about production.

Have investors ever wondered why Tesla has no mainstream suppliers? Many are obscure parts companies from Taiwan. More established auto suppliers have been burnt by experiments before and they’ll only sign up for makers who have much better prospects and track records.

If anyone thinks Apple buying Tesla makes sense they need their heads read. The last 6 years have detracted value. Pre-pubescent fund managers who have never seen a cycle might see the value of millennial nirvana but the damage to Apple would be considerable. Just because Apple has been so successful doesn’t mean it won’t make mistakes. Tesla would be a disaster. It is in the product creativity blackhole of following the path of Hoya. It would be better to flutter at a casino.

Ding dong the switch is dead

Morgan Stanley has finally lowered its bearish scenario on Tesla from $97 to $10. CM wrote in October 2017 that the shares based on production of 500,000 vehicles was worth no more than $28 (refer to report page 5). That was based on rosy scenarios. Sadly CM thinks Tesla will be bought for a song by the Chinese. Maybe $4.20 a share instead of $420 “funding secured” levels.

The stock breached $200 yesterday for the first time since late 2016.

Morgan Stanley analyst, Adam Jonas, has still kept its base case scenario at $230 per share. His bull case is $391.

Where is the conviction? To drop a bear case target by 90% must surely mean the base case is far lower than presently assumed.

Jonas must assume the bear case is actually the base case. Sell side brokers love to hide behind scenario analysis to cop out having to get off the fence. His compliance department probably prevents him from realizing $10 is his true heart.

Tesla was always playing in a market that it had no prior experience. It is not to say the products didn’t have promise. The problem was the execution. Too much senior management turnover, missed targets, poor quality and too many Tweets from Musk.

The amount of bad press arising from a lack of service centers has driven customers to moan on social media at its amateur approach. The fragile dreams of being an early adopter are being shattered. Cash burn remains high and deliveries remain low. Some pundits think Tesla orders are under real pressure in 2Q 2019.

The recent all share deal with Maxwell Technologies has seen those holders -20% since the transaction a few weeks ago. CM argued how a company with such revolutionary technology could sell itself for all shares in a debt-ridden loss making like Tesla? If the technology was of real value PE funds would have snapped it up or at the very least made a bid in cash. That none was made speaks volumes about what was bought.

All of the arguments hold true in the above link, “Tesla – 30 reasons why Tesla will be a bug on a windshield

Tesla below $200 after a successful cap raise is not a good sign. It’s the faithful slowly tipping out. Await another imaginary Musk-inspired growth engine to be announced shortly to try prop up the stock price. Yet the momentum will continue to sink. The market is losing confidence in Musk. The 1Q results were diabolically bad.

Major holder T Rowe Price has stampeded out the door. The stock is too risky. Musk is a brilliant salesman but he has bitten off more than he can chew.

CM always thought that Toyota selling its Tesla stake was a major sign. Acknowledging that under the hood the company possessed no technology that Toyota didn’t already own.

Watch the free fall. The Tesla stock will be below $100 by the year end.

(CM does not hold Tesla stock)

Open letter to Lisa Wilkinson

Dear Lisa,

Oscar Wilde once said that, “the only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”

Your open letter to Australian PM Scott Morrison effectively pleads for him to ignore the election result and adopt the policies that cost Bill Shorten his job. Labor’s platform was repudiated by the Australian people.

What is it with the left that is so preoccupied with Jacinda Ardern? Her domestic policy track record is awful. Copying Australia’s gun ban does not absolve her of failures elsewhere. Yes, she is young and progressive but it would have been nice for her to understand the cultural significance of donning the hijab rather than thinking it’s just a garment to augment her virtue signaling. Maybe you should talk to Rita Panahi to get a proper perspective on what it means to wear one.

Do you really think the PM will call his counterpart across the ditch if he needs to reach out? Morrison would seemingly have the answers to win an election within 9 months of taking over the leadership after Turnbull had trashed the Liberal brand. That is what his new party is for. He has their loyalty.

Your request to push for stable government is not lost on Mr Morrison. CM hates to tell you that the Prime Minister almost single-handedly won against all the odds and that has absolutely cemented his leadership. Do not forget the cabal of duplicitous leftists (Turnbull, Pyne, Bishop, Banks etc) within the party are thankfully all gone. The LNP can now be healed under his leadership. Did you honestly miss the significance of his win?

It wouldn’t be a letter from a host of The Project if climate change wasn’t on the menu! CM is pretty sure you voted for Zali Steggall in Warringah. Her sole policy platform is climate change. She emphatically said it in her victory speech.

Sadly, the Australian people rejected foolhardy renewable targets that Steggall wants to pursue. The Labor Party can’t risk running a climate change agenda again. Steggall’s targets are more extreme than Labor. Aussies at the coal face know better than Mosmanites at the Avenue Road Cafe how their financial livelihoods could be irrevocably damaged by Labor/Green climate policies. It is now a dead issue.

Did you know that Australia contributes 0.0000156% of global CO2? That means even if we went 100% renewable our impact is zip. Nada. Zero. Your husband’s Tesla has already travelled 150,000km in CO2 terms before it left Elon Musk’s factory.

CM advises you to watch the Sir David Attenborough documentary, Climate Change: The Facts, and note it is almost completely devoid of hard numbers. Many heart string pulling pictures but it is best you put faith in the PM to hit emission targets without trashing our economy in the process. Mr Shorten couldn’t put a price on climate change and paid a huge penalty because of it.

Please do not be concerned with the hot temperatures. It was hotter in the 1890s and early 1900s. Our Bureau of Meteorology has already been in quite a bit of trouble for fiddling the temperature figures. Feel more sorry for iguanas in Florida that fell out of trees due to the bitter cold and snowfalls.

As far as poverty goes, Australia has some of the lowest rates among 1st world nations. Spare a thought for the 118mn Europeans that live below the poverty line, over twice the rate of Australia. 23.5% of Europeans live below the poverty line and 330,000 German households had their electricity cut off because they couldn’t afford to pay for the record high power prices thanks to renewable energy policies. By the way 42,000 Aussies suffered the same fate last year.

Please quit with the “gender pay gap” nonsense. If companies could hire women at 14.1% less than men for the same job then there would be no point hiring men. Your pay packet is superior to many of your Project co-stars so you’re hardly oppressed by the gender pay gap. Choice of industry has a greater bearing on pay than gender.

Childcare is an issue which is being addressed. Domestic violence is way too high but do not ignore the statistics which show female violence against men. It just goes unreported.

While your sentiments are no doubt well intentioned, Jacinda could learn far more from ScoMo on how to win an election given the NZ PM has never achieved it in her own right.

Yours sincerely,

M. Newman, Contrarian Marketplace

Was Tesla/Maxwell deal smart?

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Tesla (TSLA) has bought Maxwell (MXWL) for an all-stock transaction at US$288m notional value. The question is why any company would accept an all share transaction from a chronic loss-making company to buy its supposedly “amazing” futuristic dry capacitor technology? Are shareholders of MXWL as hooked into the EV cult as those at Tesla? Clearly not all of them. A group of MXWL investors launched a class action to block the deal. Sadly they failed.

If the management of Maxwell truly believed this deal was a winner and the technology was game-changing, why not demand cash? Why didn’t Tesla invite Panasonic’s battery boffins to assess whether the technology had merit? One must question how good is Maxwell’s IP to only find one buyer and for an all share deal? Where were the private equity (PE) vultures circling? How little confidence in one’s product or how much faith in Musk’s cult-like status to fall for such terms?

Maxwell at the 9 month FY2018 stage reported US$91.6mn (-8%YoY) in revenue and a net loss of $30.2mn. Cash halved from $50.122m in 9M 2017 to $23.561mn 9M 2018. The company did sell its high voltage product line to Renaissance Investment Foundation for $55mn with a 2-year $15mn earn out. That involved an upfront payment of $48m making pro-forma cash as at Sep 30, 2018, total $69mn. The company has an accumulated deficit of $277mn.

While the two companies had been in conversation for several years, Musk seemed to get serious in December 2018.

Forget the technological merits of Maxwell. It is easy to work out the quality of the deal based on the structure and the lack of appetite from the mega battery makers or PE firms to validate it. There is no way that MXWL didn’t show its wares to the majors. Given the deal was announced in February 2019, the EV battery and PE world would have at the very least done some back of the envelope calculations to value the business.

All that Musk has done has absorbed another loss-making business into the same cult and give himself another “dream” to add to the smoke and mirrors story.

Maxwell’s management must have channeled Don Adams, “good thinking, 99” but will undoubtedly end up saying, “sorry about that, Chief!”