Tesla Dips After Musk Sheds $5 Billion in Shares

By Reuters
November 12, 2021 Updated: November 16, 2021

Tesla’s stock declined slightly on Thursday after filings revealed Chief Executive Elon Musk sold about $5 billion worth of his shares this week following his much-hyped Twitter poll.

The electric-car maker’s stock ended the session down 0.4 percent at $1,063.51 after tumbling earlier in the week.

Musk’s share sale was his first since 2016 and comes after his weekend poll of Twitter users about offloading 10 percent of his Tesla stake, which comprises most of his estimated $281 billion fortune.

“I don’t think investors are reading in to the news negatively,” said Oliver Pursche, senior vice president and adviser at Wealthspire Advisors in New York. “If you believe in the Tesla story, this should not impact you or change your mind.”

Tesla’s stock is in portfolios utilized by Wealthspire, Pursche said.

Filings showed Musk’s trust sold nearly 3.6 million shares of Tesla, worth around $4 billion, while he also sold another 934,000 shares for $1.1 billion to cover tax obligations after exercising options to acquire nearly 2.2 million shares.

The sale equates to about 3 percent of Musk’s total holdings. The options-related part of the sale was put in place in September, well before his Twitter poll.

Before the sale, Musk owned a 23 percent stake in Tesla, including stock options. He also owns other companies including SpaceX.

Musk’s move to sell his Tesla shares comes as Senate Democrats propose taxing the stock holdings of billionaires to help finance President Joe Biden’s social spending plan.

“Elon Musk doesn’t take a salary, he’s paid in big chunks of stock. At some point in time you have to take some of that concentration down,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“This is not novel. It just gets more attention because it’s such a high market-cap type, attention-grabbing kind of company.”

With nearly 800,000 options, or about 12 percent of Tesla’s open contracts, set to expire at the close of trading on Friday, some analysts have pointed to the potential for additional near-term volatility as investors and options dealers make adjustments to account for expiring positions.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.