Investor's Corner

How Tesla (TSLA) took advantage of the retail investing boom

The Tesla Model S. (Photo: MotorTrend)

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) stock has split 5:1. With its increased volume of shares, the price has adjusted accordingly, making its stock more available to retail investors who have become more prevalent and populous during 2020.

TSLA stock officially adjusted in price on Monday, August 31, 2020, and are now available for $442.68 per share. The adjustment in price came after the stock performed a 5:1 split, which was approved by Tesla’s Board of Directors on August 11.

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged through the world and changed life as it was once known, entertainment simply halted. Sports and shows stopped to prevent the spread of the virus, businesses closed and stocks fell. However, while the world was adjusting, it was the opportunity of a lifetime for young, retail investors to get their first taste of Wall Street as company valuations dropped due to closures and decreased demand.

While some businesses wilted in the wake of the pandemic, other entities grew. One of these entities was online brokerage firms, like Robinhood, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade, who all reported increases in accounts through the first quarter of 2020.

Some of these companies experienced a growth of 170% in new accounts, proving that investing on your Smartphone is simple and accessible. Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and E-Trade all reported massive increases in account ownership in Q1 2020 compared to the same time period a year prior. Schwab saw a 59% year-over-year increase in accounts, while TD Ameritrade and E-Trade saw a 149% and 169% increase, respectively.

Credit: CNBC, FactSet

Why are more accounts being created on these platforms? It comes down to availability, JJ Kinahan of TD Ameritrade said.

“Perhaps because they’re home or perhaps because of furloughs, they also have time to dedicate to their investments that they didn’t necessarily have before,” Kinahan said to CNBC.

However, no-fee trading and accessibility through a Smartphone have also driven a younger demographic to get involved in the market.

“I think a lot of the innovation around trading commissions has really driven the accessibility of the markets for everyone and clearly that cohort, the younger ones, are seeing it for the first time in the headlines every day,” Tim Welsh of Nexus Strategy said to CNBC.

In terms of trading volume from retail investors, it has doubled in 2020 compared to last year as now 20% of daily stock market activity comes from individuals, according to Citadel Securities.

Whether Tesla realized that retail investors were getting involved in trading because of the pandemic is unknown. However, the company did realize that its surge in price per share in 2020 was not favorable for younger individuals or retail investors as a whole, so it performed the split.

CEO Elon Musk considered a split on June 30, when @TeslaGong had mentioned that a stock split would help more fans of the company own shares. While Musk said it was “worth discussing at annual shareholder’s meeting,” the company completed a split more than three weeks before that event will take place on September 22.

However, allowing fans, employees, and individual investors contributes to Tesla’s mission as a company. Past selling cars or putting solar panels on houses, the goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. By increasing the number of people who own the company’s stock, Tesla effectively increases the number of supporters it has in making the goal become a reality. With the widespread availability of TSLA shares, more people will contribute to the fight against climate change.

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

How Tesla (TSLA) took advantage of the retail investing boom
To Top