Morgan Stanley's Tesla analyst keeps asking bonkers questions that make Elon Musk laugh

Elon MuskGetty Images/ Scott OlsonI honestly don’t know what Adam Jonas is talking about.

Adam Jonas is Morgan Stanley’s lead auto analysts and a reliable Tesla bull with a $US450 target price on a stock currently trading around $US230.

But he’s also the guy who asks the crazy, out-there questions on conference calls after quarterly earnings announcements.

Other analysts ponder the numbers with Tesla; Jonas asks whether Tesla is preparing for a world where cars drive themselves and Uber takes over.

As I’ve noted before, his ideas about mobility are thoroughly out-there, by Wall Street standards. So nobody should be surprised by his line of inquiry.

Jonas was at it again on Tuesday, when Musk and his management team conducted an earnings call after hours. The transcript is from Seeking Alpha, but sadly it doesn’t contain the long pauses and baffled laughter from Musk:

Jonas: Elon, just thinking longer term here, assuming Tesla establishes itself as a leader in autonomous transport, do you see a business case for selling autonomous cars to ride-sharing firms, or can Tesla cut out the middleman and offer on-demand electric mobility services directly from the company’s own platform?

Musk: I think we’d have to say, no comment.

Jonas: I mean, Elon, it’s kind of unusual for you to punt on strategic questions of a long-term nature. Is this a dumb question? Or a funny question?

Musk: Actually, I think it’s quite a smart question, actually.

Jonas: Why — all right.

Musk: But still no comment.

At this point, Jonas briefly sounded as if he was going to let it go … but he just couldn’t help himself:

Jonas: OK, I won’t antagonize. Let’s move on. I mean, it’s just odd, because you normally are — I’ve never heard you punt like that. That’s all. But any case –

Musk: You know…

Jonas: Is it because of a competitive sensitivity, or is it because the concept itself is just too… in flux?

Musk: I think there’s a right time to make announcements. And this is not that time.

Then things got really weird, in response to a Jonas question about Autopilot, Tesla semi-self-driving feature that was activated last month:

Musk: [N]or is our strategy fully baked here. So for us to state what it would be — it’s not fully baked, so there’s no — we’d prefer to announce something when we think we’ve got the full story understood.

Jonas: So to saying it’s not fully baked implies there’s something in the oven, but just…

Musk: OK, we kind of need to move on.

And with that, the cooking lesson concluded.

You have to give it Jonas, however. Tesla’s earnings calls are usually among the most interesting of any publicly traded company. Musk doesn’t do boring. And Jonas has, over the past year or so, developed a predictable pattern of asking Musk the least boring questions, even if they essentially have nothing to do with Tesla’s ongoing business.

Take nothing away from the other analysts who cover Tesla. But the Elon & Adam Show always makes it worth it to listen in.

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