Will Tesla's Stock Offering Need to Discount Shares to Attract Investors?

Electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) on Thursday filed a preliminary Form 424(b)5 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposing a secondary offering of 2.65 million shares of company stock. At Tuesday’s closing price of $767.29 per share, the offering is valued at $2.03 billion.

In the filing, Tesla noted that CEO Elon Musk has indicated an interest in purchasing up to 13,032 shares valued at approximately $10 million and Tesla board member and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison indicated interest in acquiring 1,303 shares valued at approximately $1 million.

Underwriters for the offering are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Securities, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank Securities, Wells Fargo Securities and Societe Generale. The underwriters have been granted an overallotment option of up to 397,500 shares.

If the offering is completed, the number of Tesla shares outstanding will total 183.71 million (or 184.11 million if the underwriters exercise their optional shares) valuing the company at nearly $141 billion. At last night’s closing price, the forward price/earnings ratio is a heady 51.28 and the price-to-book ratio is 21.27, while the price-to-sales ratio is a mere 5.76.

After more than doubling in 2020, Tesla’s stock has settled back down to a still-huge year-to-date share price rise of nearly 88%. Tesla bulls, like Musk and Ellison, see the huge increase in the share price as a perfect time to offer more equity in the company. Bears, however, might claim that the company’s management now believes the stock is fully valued, so why should investors buy in? Especially for a company that doesn’t pay a dividend.

In a note last week, Tesla bull Gene Munster of Loup Ventures commented that Tesla stock may have risen too fast and presents short-term risk resulting from a sequential decline in deliveries (the first quarter is slow for all automakers), Tesla’s still-negative free cash flow and margin pressure due to fewer deliveries and rising production ramps, among other things.

So far on Thursday, Tesla’s announced offering hasn’t weighed on the share price. The stock traded up about 2.6% at $787.31 in a 52-week range of $176.99 to $968.99. The consensus price target on the stock is $457.20, and an average daily trading volume is 15.58 million shares, nearly six times the number of new shares Tesla plans to sell.