What Elon Musk’s need to expand Tesla control looks like for bulls

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk poses for a photograph with U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets in Mitchell Hall during a tour hosted by Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark on April 7, 2022. Musk met with Academy senior leadership and delivered remarks to a crowd of cadets and faculty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Justin R. Pacheco)

Elon Musk’s comments about needing to expand his ownership and voting right stake in Tesla sent shockwaves through the community, offering polarizing takes from all sides. However you look at it, Musk’s needs are something that has enticed everyone to have an opinion.

Bulls are mostly interested in expanding Musk’s control to keep him around, recognizing his influence and presence are enough to keep Tesla at the forefront of EVs, but his issue is more surrounded by AI. Some believe his sale of Tesla stock to fund his purchase of Twitter should not be forgotten.

Bears, on the other hand, believe that Musk’s comments show his want to control Tesla as strong-arming the Board into keeping him around after making the decision to sell billions in stock.

Dan Ives, an analyst for Wedbush who has regularly supported Musk and Tesla in notes to investors, believes that the issue will be taken care of. However, there are absolutely risks involved.

“It’s no secret and a key to our bullish thesis that all AI initiatives be kept within Tesla from Dojo to Optimus to FSD to various robotaxi and other robotic developments. The Street views Tesla correctly (in our view) as a disruptive tech leader, and if Musk ultimately went down the path to create his own company (separate from Tesla) for his next-generation AI projects, this would clearly be a big negative for Tesla story,” Ives wrote.

Tesla’s AI projects are a big part of the company’s stock price. Many believe that Tesla is just an automaker, which is how they argue the price of shares is largely inflated. However, counting in the Energy sector, along with its Full Self-Driving efforts and other projects, makes it more of a tech company with many different divisions than simply a car company.

It is no secret Tesla is most recognized for its EV efforts. But if Musk were to take AI projects outside of Tesla, it would undoubtedly do damage to the stock, to the company, and to investors, all of which have waited so patiently for shares to go up in price again after promises of a complete FSD suite and a rollout of Robotaxis. None of these things have come to fruition despite Musk’s projected timetables, at least not yet.

The big question remaining is what will Tesla and the Board do to retain Musk. Although he admitted the Board is “great,” they will have to decide whether Musk is needed to attain the goals it has set for AI. Many Tesla investors would tell you without Musk, Tesla is not in the best position possible.

“At the end of the day, we believe the Board and Musk will be able to resolve this issue over the next 3-6 months, and ultimately, all AI initiatives will be kept within Tesla. The rationale for having 25% voting rights with such game-changing AI technology in the works we get from Musk’s view, but dilution and shareholder approval is a process that must be carefully managed, and this will not happen overnight,” Ives added.

Musk’s current compensation package is still under review by the Delaware Chancery Court.

Tesla is up under 1 percent on the day at the time of writing. Ives said in his note that a back and forth from Musk over such an important issue is “far from ideal for the investment community,” and could encourage some to sell.

The firm maintained an ‘Outperform’ rating and a $350 price target.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at joey@teslarati.com. He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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