When Elon Musk laid out the funding for his bid to buy Twitter, he pledged $21 billion in cash.
Even for Mr. Musk, who is worth well over $200 billion, that’s a lot of money. Most of his fortune is in Tesla shares, and one of the most obvious ways to raise money would be to sell some of those shares.
Given Tesla’s huge market cap and inclusion in major stock indexes, just about everyone with a 401(k) likely owns Tesla stock. The possibility that Mr. Musk will sell some of his assets and spend less time on Tesla as he turns his attention to Twitter has raised questions about Tesla’s stock price outlook. Shares fell 12.2% on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 fell 2.8%.
Tesla shares have lost about 20 percent of their value since Mr. Musk first revealed he bought a large stake in Twitter, sparking takeover speculation. Jim Cramer, boisterous host of CNBC’s Mad Money. accused Tesla “Harm this market very badly.”
Musk sold stock to fund his Twitter bid?
It’s too early to know. Such sales would need to be reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but these reports are not instantaneous. The announcement of the sale may take several days.
What impact will Musk’s sales have on Tesla’s share price?
Even the sale of Musk’s massive Tesla share is unlikely to affect Tesla’s share price for too long.
Mr. Musk is Tesla’s largest shareholder, owning about 17 percent of the company’s shares – about 175 million shares in total.
He would need to sell nearly 24 million shares at Tuesday’s price to earn $21 billion in cash. That’s about the average daily trading volume for Tesla stock – a lot, but not enough to overwhelm the market. About 45 million shares were bought and sold on Tuesday.
Mr. Musk’s Twitter Funding Package also includes $12.5 billion loans using their Tesla shares as collateral. If Tesla shares fall hard enough, lenders will require Mr Musk to add collateral to support the loans, potentially forcing him to sell more shares to raise cash.
Mr. Musk has sold large stakes in Tesla before. Last year, he sold about 15 million shares worth more than $16 billion in two months. These sales do not appear to have resulted in Tesla’s price being noticeably lowered, though it is not known if the price would have risen had he not been selling.
When Tesla shares fall, what happens to the rest of the market?
Tesla is a component of both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite index. In addition to being barometers of how stocks perform in the United States, both indexes reflect the many mutual funds that are widely invested in.
Considered the US benchmark index, the S&P 500 weights companies according to their market value. Tesla, which is worth about $900 billion, is one of the most influential stocks in the index.
For every dollar that Tesla shares fell on Tuesday, the S&P 500 lost 0.099 points, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. This means that Tesla stock’s decline was almost a tenth of the S&P 500’s fall on Tuesday.
“So it had a very big impact,” Mr. Silverblatt said, “but not the biggest.” Apple, which is worth nearly three times the value of Tesla, has far more influence. A 3.7% drop in its shares on Tuesday contributed to the overall decline in the index.
So why did Tesla shares fall?
Tesla stock is known for its volatility. Tuesday’s 12.2% drop was its worst daily decline since September 8, 2020, when it lost about 21% of its value. But in the past six months, Tesla shares have fallen almost 12 percent twice, on November 9 and January 27.
Some, including Mr. Musk, have at times suggested that Tesla is overpriced. Among those who believe in Tesla’s valuation, which is much higher than rival automakers relative to the size of its operations, many of the arguments hinge on Mr. Musk’s leadership role. Even Tesla acknowledges this, calling it a risk. in its latest quarterly report: “We are heavily dependent on the services of Elon Musk, Tesla techno-king and our chief executive officer. Although Mr. Musk spends a lot of time with Tesla and is very involved in our management, he does not give Tesla all of his time and attention.”
Much about Mr. Musk’s plan to buy Twitter is unknown, including how involved he will be. “Tesla investors are worried that Musk could spend too much time trying to fix the social media giant’s problems and that it would take his attention away from Tesla,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Or, as Mr. Silverblatt puts it: “It’s the expectation of something that hasn’t happened yet. It will be some time before we know anything.”