Robyn Beck | Pool | Reuters
Tesla founder Elon Musk speaks at the unveiling event by “The Boring Company” for the test tunnel of a proposed underground transportation network across Los Angeles County, in Hawthorne, California, December 18, 2018.
Wall Street analysts say Tesla shares will continue to remain under pressure amid CEO Elon Musk’s battle with the SEC, but most agree he’s unlikely to be removed.
On Monday, the SEC had asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt for violating an agreement related to previous tweets in which the regulator said he gave incorrect Tesla production numbers. Musk also took to Twitter once again on Tuesday morning and responded to another tweet saying, “This has now happened several times. Something is broken with SEC oversight.”
Tesla shares opened down over 1 percent to $294.44 in early trading.
“The current allegations seem much less serious than falsely indicating during market hours funding had been secured for an offer to take the company private at $420 per share,” wrote JP Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman. “If the SEC were to seek Mr. Musk’s removal….we believe the shares may approach the mid-$200 levels seen in the aftermath of the earlier SEC suit, although perhaps not retest these lows, given the firm’s intervening better than expected free cash flow and substantially improved liquidity position,”
Analysts at Citi also think this is a negative for the stock and to “expect Tesla shares to come under pressure at least until some clarity is achieved.” They also said that, “In our view, the longer this new escalation drags out the greater the likelihood of negative consequences to Tesla’s fundamental position.”
“While the jury is still out around the direction this SEC court action could have on Musk’s activities going forward, it will be a near-term overhang on shares until investors can better gauge the impact,” wrote Dan Ives at Wedbush. “At this point we are more concerned around this issue being another distraction for Musk & Co. as the company navigates one of its most challenging periods in its history and certainty did not need this news…”
Cowen’s Jeffrey Osborne pointed out that, “While we expect the company’s cult like following will likely not be deterred by the prospect of another battle……we continue to see major risks due to the company fundamental valuation, high growth multiple, and cash needs.”
Tesla shares may remain under pressure near term, but analysts at Macquarie say don’t expect any changes in the top spot. “We do not think there may be material risk of a change to Mr Musk’s role at Tesla,” they wrote.
Here’s what analysts are saying: