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Tesla shareholders vote in favor of keeping Elon Musk as Chairman

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is keeping Elon Musk as chairman of its board. During Tesla’s 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting, which was held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. PST, shareholders ultimately decided to allow Musk to stay as both CEO and chairman of Tesla’s board of directors.

The results of the vote come as a vote of confidence for Musk, who has battled online criticism on a heightened scale since Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call, where he refused to answer inquiries from Bernstein and RBC analysts due to the questions being “boring and boneheaded.” Apart from this, Musk also continues to battle a consistent stream of doubts about Tesla’s ability to meet its ever-elusive Model 3 production goals.

The challenge to Musk’s authority as chairman of Tesla’s board came in April, when shareholder Jing Zhao, who owns 12 shares of the company’s common stock, submitted a proposal calling for Musk’s removal from his chairman post. According to Zhao, Tesla’s growing size, as well as Musk’s commitments to SpaceX and The Boring Company, might cause “conflicts” down the road. Proxy advisers Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis supported Zhao’s proposal.

During the 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting, however, the initiative to remove Elon Musk as Tesla’s chairman came to an unsuccessful end, as investors opted to keep the serial tech entrepreneur at the head of the company by “more than a super majority vote.”

In a report on Tuesday, analysts from Needham & Co. stated that Tesla’s Annual Shareholder Meeting would ultimately be all about the Model 3’s production ramp rates. The firm, which has a “Hold” rating on Tesla stock, also stated that it expects Model 3 production to turn profitable by 2019. Needham analysts further indicated that Tesla should see a near-term benefit as it starts delivering the Model 3 Performance, which costs $78,000 with all options except Autopilot.

“Margins and average selling price should see some near-term benefit as Tesla starts delivering the Performance version of Model 3 (fully loaded at $78K), but in order to reach the target gross margin of about 25%, the Model 3 needs to sell all configurations including the base model, which won’t come until 2019 at the earliest. Tesla should be able to generate more than $10K/car it sold, and if Model 3 ramps well in the next few quarters, its cash flow will substantially increase.” the analysts wrote, according to a Barron’s report.

Tesla is currently attempting to hit a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 per week by the end of Q2 2018. While the compact electric car’s manufacturing has had its setbacks over the past few quarters, recent reports about the Model 3 line are starting to get more positive. In May alone, Tesla registered a record 18,000 new Model 3 VINs, a number that was matched only by the company’s production of the vehicle from mid-2017 to March 2018.

A leaked email from Elon Musk further revealed that the Model 3 line is now at a consistent rate of 3,500 vehicles per week. By the end of May, reports also emerged stating that Tesla is flying in six airplanes’ worth of new robots and equipment from Europe. These robots, which are reportedly set to be installed in Gigafactory 1, are expected to address further production bottlenecks in the Model 3 battery module line.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading up 0.16% at $291.14 per share during after-hours trading.

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.

Tesla shareholders vote in favor of keeping Elon Musk as Chairman
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