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'Could you be specific?' Elon Musk, David Einhorn spar over Tesla's finances

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

Billionaires Elon Musk and David Einhorn went to battle on Twitter over the investor’s bet against Tesla (TSLA), with the latter responding to a taunt made by Musk on Friday over a recent jump in the company’s stock that undermined his firm’s positions.

The war of words kicked off after Einhorn’s hedge fund, Greenlight Capital, revealed that it notched losses on its short Tesla positions in the third quarter — which prompted the CEO to mock Einhorn’s aggressively bearish stance on his company.

Mocking Einhorn as “Mr. Unicorn,” Musk — a prolific Twitter user who’s used the platform to take a victory lap after a record quarter of deliveries — made biting remarks about Greenlight’s investment track record. The hedge fund billionaire has been a fierce critic of Tesla’s finances, and is one of a group of prominent short-sellers with whom Musk has routinely sparred.

"It is understandable that you wish to save face with your investors, given the losses you suffered from Tesla's successful third quarter, especially since you've had several down years in performance and a sharp drop in assets under management from $15 billion to $5 billion,” Musk said, extending an “open invitation” to meet with Einhorn to learn more about the company.

SpaceX chief engineer Elon Musk talks to the media in front of the Crew Dragon spacecraft about the progress to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station, from American soil, as part of the agency's commercial crew program at SpaceX headquarters, in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

“Finally, please allow us to send you a small gift of short shorts to help you through this difficult time,” Musk joked.

Einhorn’s response came swiftly, as he challenged Musk to elaborate on “false allegations” made against the car maker, and took him up on an offer to get more understanding about Tesla’s bottom line.

Einhorn defended his bet against Tesla, and hit back at Musk for “narrowly averting crisis after crisis,” while outlining several questions about the car maker’s deliveries and receivables. Einhorn said he’d be open to learning more about the car company — saying he had “dozens of questions” about how it operates.

Tesla’s stock has been on a wild ride this year, as a record quarter of deliveries initially failed to allay fears about the company’s ability to turn a profit. Yet the company surprised Wall Street by posting a profit in Q3.

During the period, Tesla improved its cash position, with the company exited Q3 with $5.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hands – its highest cash balance ever. That was driven by free cash flow of $371 million, and bodes well for the company’s upcoming November debt maturity of $566 million in outstanding convertible notes.

—Yahoo Finance’s Emily McCormick contributed to this article.

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow Javier on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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