- Elon Musk has disposed of almost $40 billion of Tesla stock in under 14 months.
- That figure vastly exceeds Tesla’s $9 billion of net income in the nine months to September.
- Musk appears to have sold Tesla shares to cover tax bills, buy Twitter, and service debts.
Following his sales this week, Elon Musk has now cashed in nearly $40 billion of Tesla stock since November 2021. That figure dwarfs his electric-vehicle company’s profits and is pretty close to the underlying value of the business.
Musk disposed of about $16 billion of Tesla stock in the final two months of 2021, dumped another $15 billion worth between April and August this year, and has offloaded a further $8 billion of shares in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Tesla earned less than $9 billion of net income in the nine months to September 30.
“In the beginning, Tesla was a dream,” Chris Bloomstran, a veteran investor and Twitter skeptic, tweeted on Thursday. “From that point to today, the company raised $32 billion in equity capital and earned a cumulative profit of $9 billion.”
Bloomstran was referring to the “additional paid-in capital” and “retained earnings” figures on Tesla’s third-quarter balance sheet. Those represent the total amount the company has raised by issuing stock, and the profits it has hung onto since it was founded.
“Book value, firm equity, sums to $41 billion,” the Semper Augustus Investments chief continued. “The CEO has sold $40 billion of shares (all given as options), and counting.”
Bloomstran’s remark underscores the massive scale of Musk’s stock sales, relative to the size of Tesla’s business.
The value of those sales partly reflects the surge in Tesla shares during the pandemic: The electric-vehicle company’s stock price went from a split-adjusted $30 at the start of 2020, to over $400 last November. That lifted its market capitalization from around $100 billion to a peak of $1.2 trillion.
Since then, Tesla shares have more than halved in value. That reflects an investor exodus from growth stocks in the face of historic inflation, soaring interest rates, and a looming recession.
Musk has also warned the downturn in China’s property market and Europe’s energy crisis threaten to weigh on demand for Tesla’s vehicles.
At the same time, Tesla’s shareholders have grown increasingly concerned that Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter has become a costly distraction. The tech billionaire sold a bunch of Tesla shares to finance the purchase, and may have disposed of more shares this week to service the social-media company’s debts.
While Musk appears to have cashed in shares for clear reasons — covering tax bills, buying Twitter, and paying off debts — his disposals are undeniably large, relative to Tesla’s fundamentals.
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