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Tesla share price: Why is the EV maker’s chair selling $22m worth of stock?

The Tesla [TSLA] share price has had a mixed 2021 so far after last year’s monster gains. In 2020, the stock gained more than 600% to close the year at $705.67, yet so far this year, the gains have been in short supply, with the stock closing 10 August at $709.99.

In comparison, General Motors [GM] and Ford [F] share prices have accelerated so far this year, up 30% and 56%, respectively, as they pump billions into making the shift to electric vehicles (EV).

However, the Tesla share price has sparked back into life over the past month, up 8.1%, beating General Motors and Ford’s respective 7.7% and 4.6% loss over the same period.

One person taking advantage of the spike in the Tesla share price is its chair Robyn Denholm, who sold 31,250 shares worth more than $22m, according to a regulatory filing. Denholm has been on the Tesla board since 2014, taking the role of chairman after Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, was forced to give up the role following a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Denholm sold her shares on 2 August, when they were trading in the $709.94 and $698.40 range.

 

Speculation over Elon Musk changing roles

What makes the share sale interesting is that Elon Musk could soon be able to retake the role of chair. As part of the settlement with the SEC in 2018, Musk had to take a three-year enforced hiatus from the role. Dana Hull, writing in Bloomberg, speculates that Musk testifying and tweeting that he no longer wants to be CEO, along with saying that he doesn’t plan to attend earnings calls by default, could be indications that Musk is set to move roles.

“Are these indications that Musk is about to resume the chairman role but is ready to exit as CEO? And if that’s the case, who on earth could serve as CEO of a company so intertwined with Musk’s brash, outsized persona?” Hull writes.

“Are these indications that Musk is about to resume the chairman role but is ready to exit as CEO? And if that’s the case, who on earth could serve as CEO of a company so intertwined with Musk’s brash, outsized persona?” - Dana Hull

 

Hull suggests that investors keep an eye out for Tesla’s proxy statement – a document that publicly traded companies are required to send out before the annual shareholder meeting. Last year’s shareholder meeting was held in September. For better-or-worse Tesla is intertwined with Musk’s public persona, in much the same way Steve Jobs was at Apple [AAPL] or Bill Gates at Facebook [FB], so any decision to move roles – especially if it means being less involved in the day-to-day running of the company – is likely to move the Tesla share price.

 

The electric vehicle investment theme

August 2021 will go down as a pivotal month for the US’s move to EVs. President Joe Biden’s executive order that EVs should make up 50% of new car sales by the end of the decade should spur the boom for EV sales. Biden has also earmarked $7.5bn to improve the infrastructure for electric vehicles to increase the number of charging stations available throughout the country.

Over the past month, the electric vehicle theme has climbed 2.31% as of 10 August close, according to Opto’s thematic ETF screener. Among the ETFs making the biggest moves are the Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF, up 4.66% over the month, and the KraneShares Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF, up 5.14%. Topping the leaderboard in terms of individual equities is China’s BYD [BYD], Arcimoto [FUV] and Chrysler owner Stellantis [STLA]

5.14%

Returns rise of the KraneShares Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF over the past month

  

How much of a head start Tesla has had on the competition from Detroit and whether it can keep delivering sales growth – in the second quarter, it delivered a record 201,250 vehicles – will determine how far the stock can grow. Musk has in the past talked about selling 20 million vehicles per year by 2030. Gary Black, a managing partner at The Future Fund, said in an interview with Barron's that more competition is good for Tesla because the electric car maker continues to lead in electric vehicle performance wherever new models are coming up.

Among the analysts, Tesla has a $655.12 price target, which would see a 7.7% upside on the 10 August close. Ford has a $14.98 target, representing an 8.4% uptick, General Motors has a $72.14 target, representing a 33% climb, and Stellantis has a $23.39 target, representing a 10.9% gain.

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