Investor's Corner

Tesla’s (TSLA) Elon Musk is within striking distance of a bonus worth $1.8B in options

Elon Musk giving YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee a tour of the Fremont factory. (Credit: MKBHD/YouTube)

It appears that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is coming within striking distance of another major payout from his 10 year compensation plan. Provided that TSLA stock maintains its momentum, Musk may very well end up qualifying for the second tranche of his high risk, high reward pay package. And this time around, the payout could be worth $1.8 billion in options. 

Under Elon Musk’s 10 year compensation plan, the CEO is set to receive 12 tranches of options provided that Tesla meets certain targets. These involve $50 billion increases in market capitalization and a series of operational goals. Musk’s compensation plan is notably high risk, as he will receive nothing if Tesla fails to reach its targets. For Musk to receive any of his performance awards, Tesla, and in turn, its investors, will have to experience significant milestones first. 

The first of these milestones — which required Tesla to have an average market cap of $100 billion over six months — was secured this May. This tranche netted Elon Musk a payout of $700 million, which the CEO recently noted was more of a vesting of stock options. “Not actually a payout, just a vesting of stock options. It may never pay out, as the stock can’t be sold for 5 years after exercise. The stock must be bought & income taxes paid, then hold value for 5 years,” Musk wrote.

If Musk does end up qualifying for the second tranche of his 10 year compensation plan, he could get the option to purchase 1.69 million TSLA shares at $350.02 each. Considering that Tesla stock currently trades at almost $1,400 per share, and if Musk exercises those options and offloads the stock at its present day price, he could net as much as $1.8 billion in profit

Tesla stock is currently on a tear, with the electric car maker’s shares surging about 500% over the last year as sales of the Model 3 remained strong and the company’s Model Y ramp in the United States began to hit its stride. Amidst these, Tesla’s operations in China are also seeing a massive ramp, thanks to the quick buildout of Gigafactory Shanghai, which was able to start producing locally made Model 3s for the Chinese market. Expansions in Berlin and in central United States are also expected, on top of a highly anticipated Battery Day event later this year. 

If Elon Musk manages to hit all 12 tranches of his 10 year compensation plan, Tesla would have a market cap of $650 billion, making the electric car maker one of the most valuable companies in the world. This should net TSLA investors, especially those who have supported the company since its early days, a healthy profit, and it would give the CEO a nearly $60 billion payday. Musk currently takes no salary for his work at Tesla, with his compensation only coming from options. 

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours. 

Tesla’s (TSLA) Elon Musk is within striking distance of a bonus worth $1.8B in options
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