Tesla’s largest outside shareholder sold at a very good time


Talk about good timing.

On Wednesday, Tesla’s largest outside shareholder, Scotland-based firm Baillie Gifford, announced it had some portfolio rebalancing to do, and as a result was selling some of its Tesla stake. Tesla closed at $447 a piece on Wednesday.

“We remain very optimistic about the future of the company,” Baillie Gifford’s James Anderson said in a statement early on Wednesday. “The substantial increase in Tesla’s share price means that we needed to reduce our holding in order to reflect concentration guidelines which restrict the weight of a single stock in clients’ portfolios. However, we intend to remain significant shareholders for many years ahead,” he said.

The firm, which has held Tesla stock since 2013, added that “Tesla no longer faces any difficulty in raising capital at scale from outside sources, but should there be serious setbacks in the share price we would welcome the opportunity to once again increase our shareholding,” Anderson said.

It looks like that moment may have come sooner than expected.

In trading between Tuesday’s close and Friday, Tesla shares fell 12% to close Friday at $418, having tumbled over 16% from Monday.

The outlook for the electric-vehicle maker has always been contentious, and bears have long argued that Tesla has a business model problem—namely that its main business will never make enough money to justify the lofty stock price.

Indeed, Tesla’s stock has seen a meteoric rise over the past few months—up nearly 560% since March to Tuesday’s peak. To put that in perspective, Tesla’s stock rose roughly 33% in all of 2019. And it has left many on the Street wondering if the electric-vehicle maker is worth its current multiple (even after its stock split).

But many Tesla believers, including Baillie Gifford, remain optimistic. And for longtime bulls like Wedbush’s Dan Ives, Tesla’s recent moves, including a 5-for-1 stock split and a capital raise of up to $5 billion, “just puts further credence in the longer-term bullish thesis for Tesla,” Ives recently told Fortune. “I think it really takes the lingering bear thesis around the balance sheet and debt situation and throws it out the window.” That’s why Ives, for one, is still optimistic the stock can go even higher. His bull case for the stock is $700 per share, which would represent a further gain of 40% from Friday’s close.

Meanwhile, many are predicting that having reported a profit in its second quarter (its fourth in a row), Tesla may soon be added to the S&P 500 index. Inclusion would be “important institutionally speaking,” Ives recently told Fortune, as institutional investors have shown increasing interest in the stock in recent months, he says. However, Tesla investors will have to continue waiting, as the Elon Musk–led company was not among those added to the S&P 500 on Friday.

Wherever you stand on Tesla, one thing’s for sure: Just like financial advisers always recommend, this week’s swings surely show the power of regularly rebalancing your portfolio.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

  • Investors are pouring record amounts into Wall Street’s new favorite “safe haven”
  • First he took energy trading and the NYSE electronic. Now Jeff Sprecher of ICE shares his plans to digitize your mortgage
  • The bizarre reason Amazon drivers are hanging phones in trees near Whole Foods
  • The humbling of Europe’s most-hyped startup incubator: Rocket Internet
  • Fortune’s 2020 40 Under 40

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