Investor's Corner

Elon Musk closes in on $11B options payout amid Tesla’s 7th consecutive profitable quarter

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Tesla’s first quarter of 2021 would be one for the books, with the company beating Wall Street’s expectations for Q1 revenue and profit, boosted by record deliveries, some robust demand for its locally-produced vehicles in China, and some healthy environmental credit sales. Thanks to these blockbuster numbers, Tesla has now sustained its profitability for seven consecutive quarters. 

With these milestones in mind, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has effectively hit the targets that would qualify him for two options payouts from his 10-year, high-risk, high-reward performance award. And this time around, these two payouts could be worth a combined $11 billion

Credit: AlphaStreet

Elon Musk has a unique pay system as CEO of Tesla. He receives no salary for his work at Tesla, as his pay package is linked directly to the company’s market capitalization and financial growth. Proposed in March 2018, Musk’s performance award for his work at Tesla involves 12 milestones comprised of $50 billion additions to TSLA’s market cap. 

For each of the 12 tranches that are achieved, Musk will vest in stock options that correspond to 1% of Tesla’s current total outstanding shares. Each tranche also gives Musk the option to purchase TSLA stock at $70 per share, a discount of over 90% from the company’s current price in the market.  

As indicated by the company in its Q1 report, Tesla posted quarterly revenue of $10.39 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.84 billion. This effectively surpassed milestones that triggered the fifth and sixth of Elon Musk’s 12-tranche performance award. At Tesla’s current valuation, these payouts correspond to a combined amount of about $11 billion. 

When it was proposed, Tesla was aiming to reach a market cap of $650 billion, a target that seemed extremely far away then. It was also considered a high-reward and high-risk plan, as Musk would receive no compensation if Tesla fails to reach its targets. So far, however, Musk has been hitting his goals, potentially paving the way for the 10-year plan’s overall targets to be achieved well ahead of time. 

Elon Musk’s 10-year Performance Award. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla’s Q1 earnings are undoubtedly impressive, though TSLA shares dipped over 4% on Tuesday’s trading. In a statement to Teslarati, Peter Hanks, an analyst at DailyFX, a news and finance research platform, noted that this drop was likely due to Tesla only meeting expectations. The analyst remarked that Tesla’s long-term prospects still look very good, however. 

“Tesla’s revenue and earnings per share results were largely in line with analyst expectations, but given the price-to-earnings ratio of the stock and its role as a lightning rod of speculative risk appetite, meeting expectations is rather underwhelming. As a result, the electric car maker saw its shares dip slightly after the report was released. 

“All in all, however, Tesla looks well-positioned to continue delivering more vehicles in the future as more production plants come online, which, in turn, could see the company reign in the ludicrous valuation metrics that it currently possesses. In the meantime, stock price gains may be limited relative to the run-up experienced in the second half of 2020,” Hanks said. 

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Elon Musk closes in on $11B options payout amid Tesla’s 7th consecutive profitable quarter
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