There was once a time when legendary Canadian businessman and longtime Shark Tank Judge Kevin O’Leary remarked that he hated Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA). But since becoming an investor in the electric car maker, “Mr. Wonderful” has changed his stance on Tesla, even remarking recently that he has actually become quite fond of the company.
During a recent appearance at CNN’s MarketsNow, O’Leary discussed his philosophy of only investing in companies that exhibit strength in terms of profitability, cash earnings, and balance sheets. This makes him quite cautious in his investments, as even unicorns that rise to popularity do not meet his cut. “Quality is my mantra in investing,” he remarked.
Yet, amidst his investments, the veteran businessman admitted that he is becoming quite fond of one stock that he has bought recently. That stock was TSLA, which he was able to purchase while shares were down this year. Since buying TSLA stock, O’Leary mentioned that he has seen growth in his investments, and little by little, he believes that Tesla is turning into a “real company that makes money” for its shareholders.
“Here’s an example of one that’s turning the corner for me; that I’m actually an investor in: Tesla. Why? Because I can now see the path to profitability. I’m up 38% on Tesla, and the only reason I bought it is my son got a job, basically an apprentice there, an intern. And I said, ‘Trevor, on your behalf, I’m going to buy a bunch of stock, because the stock now is 13% today, had a bad quarter.
“Within six months, the thing is now breaking even, looks cash flow positive in quarter two. So as a result, the market has regraded the stock and it’s up over 30%. And I rest my case, your honor, it’s turning into a real company that makes money for shareholders,” he said.
The Shark Tank judge has previously mentioned that his TSLA investment was partly driven by what he saw was the amount of quality talent that the electric car maker can attract. In a statement to CNBC, “Mr. Wonderful” noted that he has seen how talented engineers from the best universities seem to flock to Tesla instead of other, more traditional automakers.
During electric vehicle races, for example, O’Leary said that Tesla staff in attendance would usually find themselves meeting with a number of potential engineers. This stands in sharp contrast to veteran automakers, who appear to encounter some difficulties when it comes to attracting fresh, aggressive talent.
“Colleges and universities around the world with an engineering department generally puts forward an electric Formula 1 car and engineering teams in their graduating years race these cars all over the world. I’ve been hanging out at the pits with these engineers, and I’ve learned something extraordinary. When you go to one of these races… when the race is over, the winning team — they come from anywhere on Earth — who do they want to talk to?
“They want to talk to the Tesla hiring team there; the HR people hanging around at the pits. Every one of these engineers, the smoking hot kids that sit with their cars, the men and women that sleep with them for 24 hours a day; it’s an unusual culture I’ve never seen before. They all want to work at Tesla. Why? Because the teams are six to eight people. If they go to a legacy car company, they get drowned out in the back somewhere. These smart, young, men and women make a big difference as interns. I can’t believe the access to talent they have. That’s why I bought the stock,” O’Leary said.
Tesla stock has seen a sharp rise since it posted surprise profits in the third quarter, beating Wall Street’s estimates. Tesla’s recovery has been notable, with the electric car maker’s market cap recently reaching all-time-highs. Some positive developments may be in store for Tesla as well, with the release of Elon Musk’s Cybertruck, the rollout of the Made-in-China Model 3, and the ongoing ramp of Tesla Energy.