Here’s the Thing About Tesla That Most Reminds Jim Chanos of Valeant

Jul 07, 2016

Jim Chanos just used the V-word.

CNBC reported this morning that the famed short-seller, who was early in spotting problems at energy disaster Enron, says Tesla Motors (tsla) reminds him a lot of certain troubled drug company: Valeant Pharmaceuticals (vrx).

Tesla, Chanos noted, has seen eight executives leave the company in this year alone. That includes two production chiefs as the company tried to ramp up manufacturing. More recently, Tesla's vice president of product technology, Rich Heley was poached by Facebook.

"The last high-profile company that we saw with such a similar large number of senior executive departures was Valeant," Chanos told CNBC on Wednesday.

If Valeant is any guide, that could foreshadow some bad news for Tesla. Over the course of a few months, Valeant went from hedge fund darling to a stock investors wouldn't prod even with a stick.

Of course, Chanos has a reason to equate Tesla to Valeant. The Kynikos Associates founder is short both Tesla and Valeant, meaning he is betting the stocks will fall.

"One of our historical sign posts, of a company in trouble is when numbers of senior people leave over a short period of time. Tesla fits that bill," Chanos had said in May to CNBC.

Earlier this week, Fortune reported that Musk and Tesla may have broken securities laws by selling shares in the company without disclosing that there had been a fatal accident related to its heavily promoted semi-self driving autopilot feature. Tesla has responded to Fortune.

Canadian pharmaceutical giant Valeant has seen its stock tank 90% over the past 12 months after critics and government offices brought attention to its drug price gouging practices and shoddy accounting practices. Michael Pearson was ousted as CEO in March, making way for Joseph Papa. An executive in charge of U.S. dermatology products, Deb Jorn, also left. Valeant also asked its former CFO, Howard Schiller, to resign earlier this year.

Chanos also previously said that he was short on Tesla because the company has struggled to hit its production targets. He's also raised questions about whether Tesla can make its mass-market car, the Model 3, and sell it profitably.

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