SINGAPORE: In February 2021, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, stated the corporate purchased $ 1.5 billion price of bitcoin.

He additionally introduced that Tesla would quickly begin accepting bitcoin as a fee technique for its merchandise.

Tesla did nothing unsuitable by shopping for bitcoin. Unconventional, maybe. However not unlawful. The purpose is, Tesla had already knowledgeable traders about its revised funding coverage a month earlier.

In its annual report final 12 months, the corporate stated that sooner or later, investing in different reserve belongings might give it extra flexibility to diversify additional and maximize returns on money that isn’t wanted to day by day use.

Nonetheless, Tesla’s revelation has raised eyebrows once more, as its bitcoin holdings have grown to about an eighth of the corporate’s $ 19 billion in money.

The query is whether or not the choice to belief bitcoin is a masterstroke in investing or has Elon Musk put Tesla shareholders in danger by risking firm funds?

READ: Commentary: Amid document worth, Tesla’s Bitcoin guess raises uncomfortable questions

The swap from money to bitcoin raises eyebrows as cryptocurrency is risky.

Janet Yellen has weighed in on the choice investing debate by calling bitcoins “extremely speculative” and “inefficient” for transactions.

Invoice Gates stated if in case you have much less cash than Elon Musk, you in all probability ought to be cautious.

Most of us have rather a lot much less cash than Elon Musk. The inventor and entrepreneur has, in spite of everything, been among the many two richest folks on the planet of late, joined on the high by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.


Regardless of the dizzying heights of his private funds, opinion on Musk’s entrepreneurial endeavors is blended – he’s a artistic genius, however can he translate these visions of the long run into profitable and worthwhile companies?

In spite of everything, that is what is going to curiosity traders essentially the most.

Tesla invested $ 1.5 billion in bitcoin, a transfer simply days after the CEO of the electrical automotive maker, Elon Musk, modified his Twitter bio to easily learn “#bitcoin”. (Photograph: AFP / KAREN BLEIER)

By being a visionary, Musk clearly has it. He is in all probability achieved extra to show science fiction into science actuality.

His firm, SpaceX, has already made historical past by being the primary personal firm to position an individual in orbit and dock a crewed spacecraft to the Worldwide House Station.

He might make a good larger title for himself if he managed to ship the primary crew to Mars by 2026, in step with his objective of finally colonizing the Pink Planet.

Even with Tesla, Musk virtually single-handedly reworked our notion of electrical automobiles (EVs).

READ: Commentary: Do not be too fast to jot down off Elon Musk

Since electrical vehicles had been first developed, one of many greatest hurdles has been the concern that the car would possibly run out of juice throughout a visit.


However Tesla has responded to motorists’ considerations. In a current survey, Tesla vehicles claimed the highest three spots when it comes to distance to journey on a single cost.

The Tesla Mannequin S Lengthy Vary, Tesla Mannequin 3 Lengthy Vary, and Tesla Mannequin X Lengthy Vary have a variety of between 314 miles and 379 miles.

All of it sounds spectacular. However so far as traders are involved, has that translated into {dollars} and cents? That is the place Musk’s monitor document has typically been referred to as into query.

Just a few of his companies, though making headlines, haven’t had comparable monetary success.

For 15 years, Tesla failed to attain profitability or constructive money movement, and Musk additionally failed to show SolarCity’s glass photo voltaic tiles right into a viable enterprise product three years after buying the corporate.

FILE PHOTO: A SolarCity vehicle is shown in San Diego, California

FILE PHOTO: A SolarCity car is proven in San Diego, California, United States, November 2, 2016. REUTERS / Mike Blake / File Photograph

Due to this fact, a extreme take a look at that the enterprise faces is sustainable profitability.

On the one hand, whereas Tesla has loved a first-mover benefit by being a disruptor to the auto trade, others are catching as much as its comparative benefits.

When it comes to distance traveled on a single cost, the Jaguar i-Tempo has a variety of 292 miles, whereas electrical automobiles from Kia, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan and BMW can journey between 193 miles and 292 miles on only one load.

Tesla has to work arduous to constantly keep forward of the curve, because the others sniff the space behind.

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Though Tesla reported its first annual revenue of US $ 862 million in January, down from a lack of US $ 775 million the 12 months earlier than, there are worrying indicators for traders.

Superficially, Tesla’s monetary turnaround is to be celebrated because it comes from improved gross sales and the introduction of the Mannequin Y, which implies that the market demand for Tesla’s electrical automobiles is rising.

READ: Commentary: Is Tesla’s share value justified? Most likely not

The Mannequin Y is Tesla’s second automotive made in China at its Shanghai Gigafactory.

There are experiences that the launch of the Mannequin Y had an affect on the gross sales of one other Shanghai automaker, Nio, after Tesla slashed costs for its sport utility car by 30%.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks out

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on stage at a supply occasion for Tesla Mannequin 3 vehicles made in China at its plant in Shanghai, China on January 7, 2020 (Photograph: REUTERS / Aly Track)

Worryingly, Tesla’s working margin fell to five.4% within the fourth quarter from 9.2% three months earlier. Tesla stated this was as a consequence of value cuts and $ 264 million in inventory compensation to its CEO.

Whereas the turnaround of a loss-making firm is undoubtedly a lift for its traders, Tesla is making much less cash than its rivals.

Germany’s BMW, for instance, reported a revenue of US $ 2.08 billion within the third quarter of 2020. In different phrases, it made greater than twice as a lot in three months as Tesla in a complete 12 months.

In itself, this isn’t a serious drawback for the reason that electrical car market remains to be in its infancy in comparison with the gasoline or diesel automotive market wherein BMW is situated.

READ: Commentary: Electrical automobiles in Singapore – simply how a lot hype is that?

Worryingly, Tesla’s income had been boosted by the sale of carbon credit to different automakers.

Conventional automotive producers nonetheless rely on the sale of automobiles with polluting inside combustion engines.

However they will get round environmental laws by shopping for carbon credit from firms like Tesla, which makes zero-emission automobiles.

With out the sale of carbon credit, which amounted to $ 1.58 billion final 12 months, Tesla would have misplaced cash.

That is the dangerous information. The very dangerous information is that demand for carbon credit might gradual as conventional automakers roll out extra electrical automobiles.

The Worldwide Vitality Company noticed electrical car gross sales attain 2.1 million in 2019, surpassing the earlier 12 months’s document and expects the inventory of electrical automobiles to develop 30-fold by now 2030.


This might pose an issue for Tesla. First, its already slim revenue margin on automotive gross sales might shrink additional as competing automakers produce electrical automobiles at extra aggressive costs.

As beforehand famous, with rival automakers turning into extra environment friendly when it comes to emissions, Tesla might have a tougher time incomes carbon credit and due to this fact making a revenue.

READ: Commentary: Ditching gasoline vehicles is far tougher for fogeys

READ: Remark: Why I am going to in all probability by no means personal a automotive – not even inexperienced

However Musk gave perception into his considering in July. He stated: “We need to be barely worthwhile, maximize progress and make vehicles as reasonably priced as potential.”

He added: “So we should not go bankrupt, that is clearly necessary as a result of it’ll fail in our mission.” Buyers ought to due to this fact anticipate Tesla to not search tremendous income.


However even sustaining modest ranges of revenue margins will take work. That is in all probability the place bitcoin might assist. Tesla might leverage its cryptocurrency funding to supply it with another supply of revenue to promoting carbon credit.

FILE PHOTO: Representations of Bitcoin virtual currency are seen in front of Tesla logo in this evil

Representations of the Bitcoin digital forex are seen in entrance of the Tesla brand on this illustration taken on February 9, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photograph

If Musk is true and the value of bitcoin appreciates, then by cashing in Tesla’s reserve of the forex, his genius standing can be asserted.

If he is unsuitable, he’ll at all times be a genius as he virtually single-handedly would have pushed electrical vehicles to the forefront of our personal transport combine.

It’s potential that Tesla will turn out to be unprofitable once more. However he is unlikely to go bankrupt supplied there are sufficient Musk followers to fund and help his subsequent huge factor.

READ: Commentary: Bitcoin, the 12-year bubble that will in the end be nugatory

READ: Commentary: Is Dogecoin the subsequent investing craze after GameStop?

When Tesla introduced in February that it had purchased $ 1.5 billion price of cryptocurrency, bitcoin costs jumped practically 50% to a excessive of $ 57,000. That very same month, it fell 17% after Musk stated the costs of bitcoin and its ether rival “seem excessive.”

Nonetheless, Musk isn’t any stranger to controversy. In Could 2020, he stated Tesla’s share value was “too excessive.” The shares fell 10 p.c. At present they’re over 300% increased.

Musk is aware of the worth of public relations and the must be on the middle of the considerations of the market, stakeholders and customers.

A tweet from him is perhaps all it takes to ship bitcoin costs increased, which might present Tesla with the assets to make Musk’s desires come true.

(If none of what occurred with GameStop is sensible to you, hearken to the writer of this commentary clarify how totally different gamers fueled the surge and which listed firm is perhaps seeing copy assaults within the Coronary heart of podcast. the Matter by CNA 🙂

David Kuo is the co-founder of The Sensible Investor and beforehand CEO of Motley Idiot Singapore.

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