Tesla sinks after Elon Musk says the company will stay public

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REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

  • Tesla will remain publicly traded, CEO Elon Musk announced over the weekend.
  • Shares slid as much as 5% ahead of Monday’s opening bell, and are set to open down about 2.7%.
  • The decision will allow the company to focus on Model 3 production and profitability, Musk said.
  • Follow Tesla’s stock price in real-time here.

After 16 days of uncertainty, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced late Friday that the electric-car maker would remain public.

Shares of Tesla fell as much as 5% over the weekend, but were clawing their way back Monday morning, pointing to an opening price of roughly $314, down 2.6% from Friday.

In a blog post on Tesla’s website, Musk explained that while “there is more than enough funding” to take the company private, investors overwhelmingly encouraged him to keep Tesla public. One major investor had even argued the stock could reach $4,000 per share in its pleading with the billionaire.

“It’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company,” Musk wrote.

“Additionally, a number of institutional shareholders have explained that they have internal compliance issues that limit how much they can invest in a private company. There is also no proven path for most retail investors to own shares if we were private. Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this.'”

Musk said the decision will allow focus to remain on ramping production of Tesla’s newest car, the Model 3 sedan.

“I knew the process of going private would be challenging, but it’s clear that it would be even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated,” Musk said.

“This is a problem because we absolutely must stay focused on ramping Model 3 and becoming profitable. We will not achieve our mission of advancing sustainable energy unless we are also financially sustainable.”

Musk’s initial announcement via twitter on August 7 was met with exuberance among investors and traders, with the stock careening to a near-record high of $389 per share. But reports of an investigation and subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US’ top stock regulator, and a slew of class action lawsuits by investors, quickly brought share prices back below $300.

Over the course of two weeks, Musk said he enlisted the advice of Goldman Sachs, Silver Lake, and Morgan Stanley. Analysts at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were forced to restrict coverage on Tesla, but the latter has already announced it has reinstated coverage with a $291 target price.

Wall Street now has an average price target of $329 for Tesla, according to an analyst poll by Bloomberg, with many warning shares could be in for a wild ride in the coming trading sessions.

“We expect shares to be under pressure in the near term as investors question the go-private process and the outcome of staying public,” Ben Kallo, an analyst at Baird, told clients Monday, per Bloomberg. However, Kallo says shares could hit $400 and has a buy rating on the stock.

The reversal could also hurt Musk’s credibility, RBC Capital Markets warned. The “whole episode was not planned or fully thought out,” analyst Joseph Spak said. He has a $315 price target for the stock, according to Bloomberg,

Shares are set to open near $315 Monday – 33% below Musk’s $420 target price to take shares private.

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Tesla stock price

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Markets Insider