Shares of Tesla declined following the surprise replacement of its chief financial officer. (Justin TALLIS)

New York (AFP) – Shares of Tesla Motors tumbled in pre-market trading on Thursday following the surprise replacement of the company’s chief financial officer.

Chief Executive Elon Musk announced the shift in the final moments of an earnings conference call on Wednesday night, saying Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja, 56, would be replaced by Zach Kirkhorn, currently a vice president in finance.

Ahuja’s departure comes follows other executive turnover at the hard-charging Musk’s electric car company.

A note from JPMorgan Chase highlighted the exit as a key disappointment following Tesla’s mixed results, citing the outgoing executive’s “long automotive industry experience” and 11 years at the company.

Ahuja “provided relative stability to the firm’s finance staff that has otherwise seen a great deal of churn,” the JPMorgan note said.

Kirkhorn, 34, who started at Tesla in 2010 and returned after a stint at Harvard Business School, told analysts the company was in a “strong” financial position.

“We have enough cash to continue launching new programs and developing new technologies and we’re able to service upcoming debt obligations with our forecasted cash flows,” he said.

Tesla on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter profits of $139.6 million, up from a loss of $675.4 million in the year-ago period.

Revenues more than doubled to $7.2 billion, reflecting the ramp-up of the company’s Model 3 sedan.

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