Musk may keep selling Tesla, regardless of Twitter

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Elon Musk

NEW YORK: Investors expect Elon Musk (pic) to sell more shares of his electric carmaker Tesla Inc by the end of 2022, according to the latest MLIV Pulse survey.

About 75% of 1,562 respondents, who include portfolio managers and retail traders, said Musk won’t end up owning Twitter Inc – a deal that led him to offload about US$8.5bil (RM38bil) of Tesla shares in April.

A third of respondents predicted he will settle with the social-media company for more than US$1bil (RM4.45bil) rather than seeing through his US$44bil (RM196bil) takeover at US$54.20 (RM241.31) per share, while 27% think a judge will order him to pay the US$1bil (RM4.45bil) break-up fee.

“Musk will likely sell shares regardless of what happens with the Twitter deal,” said Mike Loukas, chief executive officer of TrueMark Investments, echoing the sentiment of 68% of those surveyed.

“But if investors read too much into it, they’re likely not seeing the forest through the trees.”

That could signal further pain for Tesla stock, which is down about 16% this year, more than the 13.3% decline in the S&P 500.

The Austin-based company has been roiled by supply-chain shortages, Covid-related lockdowns in China, and confusion surrounding Musk’s pursuit of Twitter.

Musk, 51, is the world’s richest person, with a US$260bil (RM1.2 trillion) fortune derived largely from his stake in Tesla.


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But he’s been shedding shares as of late: He conducted a Twitter poll in November about selling 10% of his position, then proceeded to sell more than 15 million shares over the next couple of months.

Musk offloaded about 9.4 million Tesla shares in April after his deal to buy Twitter, amounting to US$25bil (RM111.3bil) worth of stock sold in the span of six months.

He’s now attempting to back out of the agreement, which will be the subject of a fast-tracked October trial in Delaware Chancery Court.

Whatever the outcome, investors expect that Tesla shareholders will welcome an end to the matter.

“If his stock sale is accompanied by a definitive agreement that puts the Twitter mess behind him, Tesla could rally,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.

“A definitive end to Twitter would remove a distraction and theoretically allow Musk to focus more on Tesla.”

Still, survey respondents are less confident in Tesla’s upside relative to four other megacaps in the S&P 500. About a quarter said Microsoft Corp offered the most potential, roughly the same share as Inc.

Alphabet Inc got 21% of the vote while Apple Inc received 18%. Tesla came in last, with 12.5%.

The threat of competition for electric vehicles (EVs) looms large, with most global automakers working on their own EVs. The macro backdrop is also challenging, with the US economy shrinking for two straight quarters.

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