In 2003, Tesla Inc., formerly known as Tesla Motors until 2017, was founded by two American entrepreneurs, Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard. At the time, the company was named after legendary inventor Nikola Tesla.
The pair planned to design and build electric sports cars, producing the ground-breaking Roadster sedan in 2008. The initial funding for Tesla came from a range of sources, with the most notable being from PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, who put over $30 million into the venture and served as the company’s chairman from 2004.
Towards the end of 2007, Eberhard stepped down from his post as CEO and President of Technology to join the company’s advisory board. In 2008, it was officially announced that he had left Tesla, but remained a shareholder. In the next year, Tarpenning, who served as the Vice President of Electrical Engineering, and who played a major role in the development of the Roadster’s software and electronic systems, also left the company. Following their departures, Musk took over the reins as CEO.
As mentioned, Tesla Motors unveiled its first car in 2008, the fully electric-powered Roadster. The car was one of a kind, as it was the first completely electric vehicle to offer comparable power and range to petrol-powered cars. In 2012, Tesla halted production of the Roadster so that it could concentrate on building the new Model S, a sedan that received acclaim for its design and performance characteristics.
Tesla Autopilot, a type of semi-autonomous driving, was introduced on the Model S in 2014. In 2015, the company released its Model X, which is a crossover vehicle that has SUV characteristics but is built on the chassis of a car.
Also starting in 2012, the company set up free-of-charge, fast charging facilities for Tesla owners in the U.S. and Europe and named them Superchargers. Later versions also had the capability to replace the Model S’ battery array and are called Tesla Stations.
In 2018, the company also made forays into the production of solar energy products and batteries. In 2016, it cemented its commitment to this space by acquiring SolarCity, a firm that manufactures solar panels. To reflect that it no longer sold only cars, Tesla Motors was renamed Tesla Inc. in 2017.
Tesla Stock History
On January 29, 2010, the company filed a preliminary prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, indicating that it intended to hold an initial public offering which would be underwritten by Deutsche Bank Securities, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley. In May of that same year, Tesla announced a “strategic partnership” with Toyota, which would purchase Tesla common stock worth $50 million in a private placement, immediately following the IPO.
The Tesla IPO was launched on June 29, 2010, listing on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker TSLA. The company issued 13,300,000 shares to the public at $17 per share, raising $226 million. Tesla was the first American car manufacturer to go public since Ford Motor Company’s 1956 IPO. By 2014, Tesla’s market value was half that of Ford.
While Tesla has rapidly taken off as a stock and has gained such an impressive market cap, its inconsistent car sales numbers have often negatively influenced the company’s share price. Tesla investor’s confidence constantly fluctuates on the back of each quarterly earnings report, product announcement, product delay, news event and, of course, every tweet or TV interview by Musk.
Most of the car manufacturing industry stocks generally move slowly and predictably in alignment to long business cycles. On the other hand, Tesla stock is highly volatile, with its Silicon Valley tech-like behaviour constantly baffling investors and producing opportunities for speculative stock trading.
By June 2018, Elon Musk reportedly held 33.7 million Tesla shares, owned indirectly via a trust. As a result, he is the company’s largest shareholder among both individuals and institutions. He is a controversial yet brilliant man, whose actions often have a profound positive or negative impact on the stock price of Tesla Inc. For instance, in September 2018, he was blamed for a dip in the value of Tesla stock after he smoked marijuana during an interview on live TV.
Tesla has given no indication so far that it intends to pay its shareholders any dividends. However, it is important to note that this is not unique to the company. Many public companies only start paying out dividends to stakeholders after continued profitability, over an extended period of time.
How to Trade Tesla Stocks
Tesla is a highly volatile stock whose wild and sudden swings in price should provide plenty of opportunity for short-term and medium-term investors to benefit from. What are some of the factors that influence these movements in Tesla’s share price?
Tariffs and Trade Agreements
In 2018, China and the United States became embroiled in a trade war, with each country introducing steep tariffs on the goods they trade with each other. Unfortunately for Tesla, it manufactures one of the products that China has targeted with tariffs: electric cars. This is bad news for the fledgeling automaker since it is in Morgan Stanley’s list of the top 20 stocks with the highest revenues from China. The Asian nation accounted for 19% of Tesla’s total sales, before the introduction of the tariffs. The 25% tariffs that China imposed in July 2018 puts the price of Tesla cars beyond the reach of many Chinese buyers.
Tesla Model 3 Rollout
After the exceptionally slow production growth, the company’s Model 3 cars finally started rolling off the production lines in mid-2018. If the company consistently meets its executives’ projections of at least 5,000 Model 3s each week, then Tesla’s gross margins should start to rise, and the company’s profits too a dramatic rise would certainly have a positive impact on TSLA stock. For instance, in early September 2018, the price of the stock rose sharply after it was reported that Tesla topped the trading charts for the number of electric cars sold in August 2018.
Elon Musk’s Verbal Interventions
As a workaholic who often logs as many as 120 hours of work in a week, Musk somehow seems to have time to post lots of messages on Twitter. Unvetted by the company’s legal team, the PR department or the Tesla board, these market-moving interventions have not only resulted in misunderstandings, anger and uncertainty on the direction that the company is taking, but they have also now led to investigations by the U.S. government. On August 7, 2018, Musk tweeted that he planned to make Tesla a private company with each share at $420; a claim that will see him facing a suit from the SEC. As a result of the legal action, the company’s shares plummeted by more than 10%.
Tesla Stock Trading Information:
MT4 Symbol: #TESLA
Trading Hours: 13:30-19:59 GMT
Leverage up to: 5:1