NEW YORK. — Elon Musk has lost bragging rights as the world’s wealthiest tycoon to Bernard Arnault, the French patriarch behind luxury goods giant LVMH, following a disastrous January during which Tesla shed a staggering US$200 billion in market value.
The drop reflects a litany of setbacks the EV maker suffered in a month that saw a 26 percent plunge in Tesla’s stock price.
As a result, Musk’s personal net worth is now currently estimated by Forbes at US$205 billion, down from a peak of US$320 billion in November 2021.
First Tesla surrendered the crown as the leading EV manufacturer to China’s BYD in the fourth quarter.
Official data later suggested Tesla had deep-rooted problems in Europe’s largest car market, while frigid temperatures in the U.S. prompted a wave of fear regarding the general reliability of EVs outside of the warm climes found in California.
Allegations also surfaced in the Wall Street Journal that Tesla’s board knew Elon Musk was abusing a wide range of narcotics.
The Tesla CEO then compounded the company’s problems after leaning on his fellow directors for a pay package that could double his stake to 25 percent — lest he develop his AI and robotics plans elsewhere.
Finally, the company’s Q4 earnings last week turned into a stock price fiasco after Tesla refused to provide guidance beyond a vague warning that vehicle sales would grow at a “notably lower” pace than in 2023, when it cut prices and sacrificed profits in a bid to prop up demand.
Even as revenue rose by a fifth to a record $97 billion in 2023, earnings and free cash flow declined across the board.
Investors are now looking to parse through the annual 10-K filing published on Monday for any further red flags, beyond the windfall US$5.9 billion accounting gain booked in the fourth quarter. —Forbes.