Some very interesting news about Tesla emerged yesterday. While it was already known that the SEC had subpoenaed Tesla over Elon Musk’s recent tweet about taking the company private, it emerged yesterday that the company was already the subject of an SEC investigation into whether it had misled investors. In particular, the SEC is probing whether Tesla misled the market with its Model 3 production forecasts. The actual production of vehicles last year was woefully short of the company’s forecasts.
FINSUM: Musk’s actual delivery of vehicles was just 10% or so of his initial forecast, which is likely what sparked the investigation. However, this is apparently a very difficult case for the SEC to prove, so it seems unlikely to amount to much.
Tesla is a hard stock to figure at the moment. No one is quite sure how likely it is that the company will be taken private at $420. Many are trying to handicap the odds, with Barron’s guessing they are less than 50%. The stock has given up much of the initial gains it got from Musk’s fateful tweet, but the big question is where it will go next. The answer is that it likely won’t move much until there is more information to digest. The SEC is investigating the company, but there is little word on any potential deal.
FINSUM: We think Tesla is going to be quite banded until more information about a potential deal comes out.
Well it finally happened. Investors had been waiting anxiously to see if the SEC would act over Elon Musk’s highly unusual way of announcing his buyout intentions last week. Musk tweeted out his plans to take the company private at $420 per share. The SEC has been looking into whether this is a violation of disclosure rules or even intentionally misleading information. The big question is whether Musk actually had the “funding secured” as he said, because if not, it could be the basis for a market manipulation charge. At least two lawsuits have been filed against Tesla since the tweet.
FINSUM: So the SEC says companies are allowed to announce material info over social media, so this case is really just about whether the statement was misleading.
Any investor will already know that Tesla is locked in an interesting and precarious situation. Elon Musk is apparently fixed on taking the company private, which has pushed its share price up, but the effort looks highly vulnerable, which could send things crashing back down. Add into the mix that the SEC is investigating the fact that Musk announced his intentions via Twitter, and you have a dangerous mix. Many are wondering when the SEC might decide if Musk broke the rules with his tweet, but the reality is that it may take some time for a judgment.
FINSUM: In our view the lack of a ruling on Musk’s tweet could mean this whole deal sits in limbo for some time.
Any advisor will know that the SEC’s new Regulation Best Interest has been under serious fire for the last couple of months. While it initially had a relatively warm reception from industry, brokers have railed against it more recently. Now, state attorney generals are mounting a furious push. The AGs of 17 states have come together to denounce the rule and demand a revision that mirrors the standard laid out in the old DOL rule. Specifically, the groups wants Reg BI to hold broker-dealers to the same standard as RIAs.
FINSUM: The SEC probably won’t do anything about this now, but this sets the stage for a major legal challenge before the rule may actually be implemented.