Tesla shares fall 5% on Wall St. skepticism, SEC probe reports

Tesla Inc.'s shares slipped almost five per cent to a two-day low on Thursday, wiping out all the gains fueled by chief executive Elon Musk's recent tweet announcing a plan to take the company private.

Moody's says Tesla's consideration of Musk's going private plan was negative for company's credit outlook

In this Aug. 8, 2018, file photo a Tesla emblem is seen on the back end of a Model S in the Tesla showroom in Santa Monica, Calif. Tesla shares on Thursday dropped back to near the level they were trading at before CEO Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday that he may take the company private. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

Tesla Inc.'s shares slipped almost five per cent to a two-day low on Thursday, wiping out all the gains fuelled by chief executive Elon Musk's recent tweet announcing a plan to take the company private.

Shares fell early in the day following Wall Street's skeptical response to Musk's idea of going private and a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was asking Tesla why Musk announced his plans on Twitter and whether his statement was truthful.

The shares fell further on Thursday after Bloomberg reported that the SEC already had been looking at Tesla's public statements, citing two unnamed people it said were familiar with the matter.

Tesla disclosed in its most recent quarterly report that it has "received requests for information from regulators and governmental authorities," including the SEC. The company did not disclose in its filings the details of those requests or its responses.

Tesla and the SEC declined comment.

Ratings agency Moody's also said on Thursday that Tesla's consideration of going private based on Musk's letter to shareholders published after his tweets on Tuesday was negative for the company's credit outlook.

Tesla's future rests largely on its Model 3 sedan, and it is ramping up production after months of what Musk called "manufacturing hell." It also faces $1.2 billion in convertible debt maturities through March of next year, the ratings agency wrote.

"Although the company's cash generation will improve during the second half of 2018 and over the coming year as Model 3 production improves, we continue to expect that Tesla will need to access the capital markets in order to fund its operating requirements and repay the maturing convertible debt obligations," Moody's wrote.

Wall Street analysts have expressed doubts about the billionaire' s ability to gather enough financial backing to complete a going-private deal.

Tesla shares closed at $352.45, down almost $6 from where they were before Musk's tweet on Tuesday sent them soaring to a near one-year high.