Tesla's having an absolutely rotten year so far.
Last month, the EV maker's stock tanked, plunging almost 25 percent in January. And this month it isn't faring much better.
In fact, as Quartz reports, the company is now officially the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500, a market index tracking the 500 largest companies in the US, despite the average stock in it actually being up by four percent over the same period.
That puts the Elon Musk-led company even below Boeing, which has also had an abysmal start to the year, with regulators investigating a glaring technical oversight by the company that forced an emergency landing in early January when a large piece of a jet blew off mid-flight.
As usual, Tesla's self-annointed "Technoking" is very much to blame. Musk's absurd antics, especially when it comes to his social media echo chamber X, have done little to appease investors and are actively alienating potential allies with antisemitic comments, platforming neo-Nazis, and arguing that Black people are unfit to be pilots.
Musk has also been repeatedly making headlines for his alleged use of drugs. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that Oracle cofounder and former Tesla board member Larry Ellison asked him to come to his Hawaiian island to "dry out from the drugs" and that others around Musk had implored him to go to rehab.
To many investors, Tesla is a massive wasted opportunity.
"The cost of Elon's behavior is really hurting shareholders and it's really unfortunate because the reason we're holding the stock is the long-term potential of Tesla is immense," long-term shareholder and investment manager Ross Gerber told Yahoo Finance.
"There’s been a brand deterioration around Musk and that’s what’s created a black cloud around Tesla," analyst Dan Ives told Bloomberg last month.
Musk's self-inflicted woes also include his expansive promises around "Full Self-Driving," a full-functioning version which he's been promising for a full decade now. The reality, though, has been rocky, with only an expensive and half-finished version available amid several related recalls affecting millions of Tesla vehicles over the last year.
Meanwhile, Tesla is doing damage control to make sure the situation doesn't continue spiraling out of control.
During the company's Q4 earnings call last month, Tesla warned that volume growth "may be notably lower" this year compared to last year and that a cheaper "next-generation vehicle" wouldn't be available until next year.
Then there's some considerable competition, particularly from China, ready to eat Tesla's lunch.
Musk, however, is doubling down and has even threatened investors that he could pull AI projects away from the company unless he gets a 12 percent stake bump, a massive rise in his net worth.
As a result, Gerber accused him of "blackmailing the Tesla shareholders" in an interview with CNBC last month.
"Where in the world does paying a CEO $30 billion make any logical sense in the modern world, who already has a $150 billion stake in the company?" he added.
Put simply, it feels a lot like Musk could be taking Tesla down with him.
Will shareholders stick around to find out whether he'll finally make good on his word? Given Tesla's stock performance this year, many of them are getting wary of his antics and are finally starting to jump ship.
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