Business

Tesla, snubbed by the S&P 500, quickly completes $5 billion stock sale

Posted September 8, 2020 8:33 a.m. EDT

— The old Wall Street adage is to "sell high." Tesla did just that.

A week ago, Tesla announced it would sell $5 billion worth of stock at market prices "from time to time." Tuesday it announced it had completed that sale as of Friday.

The exact number of shares sold, and thus the average price of each sale, was not disclosed. Tesla shares have fallen sharply in the recent sell-off of tech stocks. Shares reached a split-adjusted record high close of $498.32 on August 31, but have lost 16% of their value since then through Friday's close. And shares were down another 11% in pre-market trading even before the Tuesday's filing.

The sell-off could be because Tesla was not added to the S&P 500 index, as many investors were expecting would happen, given its market value and recent record of sustained profitability. Being added to the S&P would have forced additional purchases by fund managers whose holders must mirror the blue chip index.

Shares of Tesla are still up about 400% since the start of the year, even with last week's sell-off.

The sale of stock is the second such offering Tesla has done this year to take advantage of the skyrocketing stock price. In February the company raised $2.3 billion through the sale of 3 billion shares. Adjusted for the recent split, that stock sale was at an average price of $151.60 a share.

CEO Elon Musk dismissed the idea of the need for sales of additional shares when asked about it by analysts in January.

"We're actually spending money as quickly as we can spend it sensibly," Musk said on a January 29 call, when the company posted its first annual profit. "There is no artificial hold back on expenditures ... So in light of that, it doesn't make sense to raise money."

But soon thereafter Tesla decided it didn't make sense to not take advantage of its climbing share price. And if it turns out that its shares hit a peak last week that it might not reach again for a little while, then Tesla apparently sold additional shares at close to that high point.

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