Dec 22, 2022 - Economy

Musk says he's "definitely" not selling more Tesla stock next year

Photo illustration of Elon Musk shrugging and holding up his hands

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Elon Musk said Thursday afternoon in a Twitter Spaces that he’s not selling any Tesla stock next year "under any circumstances."

Details: "I'm not selling any stock for I don’t know a quote minimum of 18 to 24 months. You can count on me — no stock sales til probably I don’t know, 2025 or something," Musk said.

  • "I need to sort of sell some stuff just to make sure like, there's like, powder dry that, you know, to account for a worst case scenario ... You have my commitment that I won’t sell stock until, I don’t know, probably two years from now. Definitely not next year under any circumstances and you know, probably not the year thereafter."
  • And as Musk started to say he's "somewhat paranoid, having gone through, to really attach," he was cut off by other speakers.

Why it matters: Musk needs to assure Tesla investors that he's not harming one of his companies to support another.

  • Specifically, he's been trying to reinforce his commitment to Tesla as he's sold $23 billion worth of Tesla stock in 2022 to "save" Twitter's business. He's offloaded nearly $7 billion after taking over Twitter in late October.
  • Investors have grown increasingly worried about Musk being distracted with running Twitter, as well as about reputation contagion from the saga rubbing off on Tesla.
  • Some would-be Tesla owners reportedly canceled their preorders and terminated their car leases after growing tired of Musk's behavior on Twitter and his leadership of Twitter.
  • "When you have this much negative information about anything, that's going to affect consumer decision making to some degree," one person in the audio chat noted.

The big picture: At one point, close to 60,000 accounts were shown to have listened in on Thursday concurrently.

  • The chat featured several Tesla bulls and enthusiasts, including investor Ross Gerber, who prompted Musk to address his commitment to Tesla.
  • "I just want you back at Tesla and I just miss you, Elon … there’s a huge community of people who want to know ... how long is this going to be," said Gerber, referring to the time and attention Musk has piled into Twitter.

What he's saying: Musk said he hasn't missed "a single important Tesla meeting" in the past few months and there hasn't been anything he could have done that would have helped Tesla execute.

  • "We're making great progress on future developments and ... there's going to be some macro drama" that will impact the stock prices of everything, he added.
  • He said that compared to Tesla, Twitter is “about 10% of the complexity,” which those in the Twitter Spaces seemed relieved to hear.
  • "I stand by my prediction that Tesla will be the most valuable company in the world … but I just can’t predict with accuracy the stock price between now and then," Musk said.

Zoom out: Tesla's stock shot up after hours by more than 2% as Musk made his comments.

  • But there’s wide skepticism that he’ll keep his word given he's made and broken similar previous commitments.
  • Tesla's stock is down nearly 70% this year, at 52-week lows, and 45% since Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

Be smart: Musk acknowledged Thursday that he and Tesla "have long used Twitter, frankly, for free to advertise Tesla," so it's no surprise that he's been on Twitter Spaces with loyal followers of both companies to try to shore up confidence when both companies are under strain.

What to watch: Musk on the call said Tesla's board may be open to a share buyback next year.

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