Investor's Corner

Tesla (TSLA) rises as Elon Musk and SEC’s settlement gets approval from US judge

Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) are up after the opening bell on Tuesday, as news emerged that US District Judge Alison Nathan had approved Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s settlement for a lawsuit that resulted from the CEO’s haphazard “funding secured” tweet last August.

The US District Judge’s approval comes less than a week after Musk and the SEC submitted a joint letter explaining their reasons for the settlement. The SEC, for its part, noted in its section of the letter that it took several factors into account when determining the appropriate penalties for Musk and Tesla. The agency outlined several factors, from the impact of Musk’s tweets on the market to the CEO’s willingness to reach a settlement. 

“In this case, the SEC considered multiple factors in determining appropriate civil penalties. These included the seriousness of the alleged violations, the market impact caused by the alleged conduct, and Defendants’ financial means, but also countervailing factors such as Defendants’ willingness to settle these actions promptly, Defendants’ apparent lack of pecuniary gain, and the limited temporal scope of the conduct.”

Elon Musk’s legal representation, on the other hand, noted that a prompt resolution in the form of a settlement is in the best interest of the electric car maker’s investors. In the joint letter, Elon Musk’s legal team simply stated that “Tesla and Mr. Musk believe that a prompt resolution of these actions through settlement is in the best interests of investors and should be approved.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Elon Musk and Tesla Inc. would be required to pay a fine of $20 million each. The $40 million total fine will be distributed to investors who were harmed by Musk’s tweets under a court-approved process. Elon Musk would also be required to step down as Chairman of Tesla’s Board of Directors. The company would be required to appoint two new independent directors to the board as well. Perhaps most importantly, though, the electric car maker would have to establish a new committee of independent directors and “put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications,” preventing scenarios like the “funding secured” fiasco from happening again.

Ultimately, US District Judge Alison Nathan’s approval of Musk and the SEC’s settlement closes a rather tumultuous chapter in Tesla’s history. Musk’s “funding secured” announcement back in August, after all, augmented Tesla’s stock’s already volatile nature. Earlier this month alone, as Elon Musk posted tweets that were critical of the SEC, Tesla stock started a steep dive that resulted in the company ending last Monday’s trading at a nearly 18-month low.

That said, Tesla’s fundamentals appear to be in the process of steadily improving. Just last week, for example, Wall Street firm Macquarie Capital Inc. started coverage of Tesla with an “Outperform” rating and a $430 price target, citing the company’s unique position to “lead in ecosystem platforms.” Signs of a strong Model 3 ramp, such as record VIN registrations, have also been observed.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading up 3.54% at $268.79 per share.

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

Tesla (TSLA) rises as Elon Musk and SEC’s settlement gets approval from US judge
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