Earlier this year, Tesla attracted a lot of attention and a good number of raised eyebrows when it invested $1.5 billion of its cash on Bitcoin. The move was unprecedented among automakers, and due to the carbon footprint of Bitcoin mining, even some of Tesla’s more environmentally-conscious supporters voiced their opposition to the investment.
So far, however, Tesla’s Bitcoin investment seems to be paying off. In the recently-held first-quarter earnings call, the EV maker announced that it had trimmed its cryptocurrency investment by about 10%. This resulted in the company gaining a profit of $101 million from the sale of its digital assets.
Bitcoin’s price is volatile by nature, though it has seen a notable rise in the past months. This seems to have positively affected Tesla, with the company noting in its Form 10-Q that the fair market value of its investment at the end of the first quarter was $2.48 billion. That’s some impressive returns, though Tesla noted that it intends to hold the cryptocurrency long-term.
“In the first quarter of 2021, we invested an aggregate $1.50 billion in bitcoin and began accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in certain regions, subject to applicable laws. In the first quarter of 2021, we also sold an aggregate $272 million in bitcoin.
“Net of such sales, the fair market value of our bitcoin holdings as of March 31, 2021, was $2.48 billion. Based on our trading activity to date, we believe bitcoin is highly liquid, although we generally intend to hold our bitcoin long-term regardless of the manner of acquisition. However, digital assets may be subject to volatile market prices, which may be unfavorable at the times when we may want or need to liquidate them,” the company noted.
Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn described the company’s rationale behind its Bitcoin investment in the recently-held Q1 2021 earnings call. According to the CFO, Tesla wanted to find a place that would produce some returns while ensuring liquidity for some of the cash that was not being immediately used. Bitcoin turned out to be a viable option.
“Elon and I were looking for a place to store cash that wasn’t being immediately used, trying to get some level of return on this, but also preserve liquidity… And bitcoin seemed at the time and so far has proven to be a good decision… But thinking about it from a corporate treasury perspective, we’ve been quite pleased with how much liquidity there is in the bitcoin market…
“When we did the sale later in March, we also were able to execute on that very quickly. And so as we think about kind of global liquidity for the business in risk management, being able to get cash in and out of the market is something that I think is exceptionally important for us,” Kirkhorn said.
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