Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said on the company’s earnings conference call just two weeks ago that there was no need to issue new shares. On Thursday, however, the company announced Tesla’s plan to raise $2 billion through the issue of common stock. Tesla’s ipo price of $767 a share pushed its market value to nearly $146 billion, second only to Toyota Motor Corp., according to people familiar with the matter.
There is no doubt that Musk has big dreams. Tesla has repeatedly turned to Wall Street for money to turn them into a reality, with banks charging millions in fees. Instead of punishing companies for diluting shareholders’ equity, the market has pushed up share prices.
This virtuous circle has enabled Tesla to raise about $14 billion over the past decade. Musk has previously said publicly that refinancing is pointless, saying the company’s spending is sensible and that savings will not hinder growth.
Figure: Tesla’s funding since 2010. Black is common stock issued and blue is issued bonds (in US$1 billion).
But Tesla’s share price has risen in recent months, apparently changing Musk’s mind. Tesla will balance its balance sheet with at least $2 billion in new shareissues and fund Musk’s seemingly never-ending ambitions.
Earlier Thursday, Tesla revealed that its budget for this year would be $3.5 billion, more than double last year’s. Tesla also has about $12.5 billion in debt, twice the cash and cash equivalents of the end of last year.
Tesla’s shares have more than tripled since the company’s earnings report. Musk also accelerated the progress of the Model Y, which he believes will be the company’s new best-selling model. But sales of the Y-model are not expected to contribute much in the first few months of the year, and analysts warn that first-quarter sales could slow due to seasonal factors. Tesla completed its latest offering before the next report, which was weighed down by the company’s share price due to the risks involved. The company will sell the shares at a discount of 4.6% from Thursday’s closing price.
Some investors and analysts believe the company should try to raise enough money. “Because Tesla is overvalued, we’ve been hoping that Tesla will raise more cash by issuing shares, and then we may never need to raise capital anymore,” Morningstar analyst David Whiston said in a note. “”We want to see more consistency between the company’s actions and Musk’s words. “