Elon Musk still isn’t poor, Ford has an F-150 recall, and Mitsubishi. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Feburary 23, 2021.
1st Gear: Tesla CEO Elon Musk Lost A Lot Of Money On Paper
And according to Bloomberg’s estimation, that means he is no longer the world’s richest person. That would now be Jeff Bezos. This is all because Elon’s net worth is inextricably tied with Tesla’s stock price, and Tesla’s stock price has been down in recent days. Bloomberg says that $15.2 billion is gone from Musk’s net worth.
Tesla’s biggest decline since September was fueled in part by Musk’s comments over the weekend that the prices of Bitcoin and smaller rival Ether “do seem high.” His message — via his favored medium of Twitter — came two weeks after Tesla announced it added $1.5 billion in Bitcoin to its balance sheet.
The cryptocurrency, which has surged more than 400% over the past year, tumbled for a second day on Tuesday, at one point slipping below $50,000 on skepticism over the durability of its rally. Tesla shares also continued their slide in early trading in New York, falling 5.2% to $677.50 at 8:09 a.m.
Elon has been seesawing with Bezos for a while.
Musk drops to second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s 500 richest people with a net worth of $183.4 billion — down from a peak of $210 billion in January. Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos reclaimed the top spot even as his fortune fell by $3.7 billion to $186.3 billion Monday.
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2nd Gear: Tesla’s Stock Price, As Always, Remains A Rorschach Test
Many years ago when Wall Street analysts would attempt to explain a company’s stock price they would talk about things like “revenue” and “profits.” With Tesla they talk about things like “dogecoin.”
More from Reuters on the company’s stock:
[Musk’s] role in encouraging a retail frenzy in the shares of U.S. video game chain GameStop and driving up the price of the meme-based digital currency dogecoin have also come under fire while being acclaimed by a large fan base.
Analysts at Barclays noted that there had been a drop of conversations about the electric car makers in the Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, which could explain some of the loss of appetite for the stock.
“With only 2-3 total submissions on each of the past several days, we remain below the trend in attention that has come along with big returns jumps in the past”, the analysts said in a note.
Other analysts have also cautioned against investing in the stock which remains one of the most expensive on the S&P 500 index at 163 times its 12-month forward earnings.
While investing in bets against the company’s stock have backfired spectacularly in the past, short interest in Tesla shares still stood at 5.5%, according to Refinitiv data.
If investing in the stock market is just another form of gambling, why not just, you know, go to a casino? “There’s a pandemic,” you might reply, reasonably. But sheesh, at least a casino has a bit more panache.
3rd Gear: Lucid Is Going Public
Lucid is going public with the aid of a special-purpose acquisition company, or a SPAC, an acronym which I’ve had to type a lot in recent months but wish would be shot into the sun. Some $4.4 billion will be generated by the deal, according to Bloomberg.
Shares of the SPAC fell naturally.
Churchill Capital Corp IV, the special-purpose acquisition company run by financier Michael Klein, fell as much as 42% in premarket trading after confirming its merger with Lucid. The deal will generate about $4.4 billion in cash for the 14-year-old carmaker, which announced production of its debut model will be delayed to the second half of this year.
The slump follows a dramatic 472% run-up in the shares since Bloomberg first reported on Jan. 11 that Lucid and Churchill were in talks. Lucid has shied away from comparisons to market leader Tesla Inc., but the public listing at a pro-forma equity value of $24 billion positions it to compete for a slice of what’s expected to become a rapidly growing market for EVs. It plans to use the newly acquired funds to bring vehicles to market and expand its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Traders often sell “sell on the news” after a long-rumored deal is consummated. The scope of Churchill’s decline was especially pronounced, signifying investors may also have been disappointed by the production delay or the terms of the deal. Lucid said it expects to need $600 million in bridge financing to bolster the company’s cash until the transaction with Churchill closes. The company expects negative free cash flow of around $10 billion through 2024, raising the question of how it will seek additional funds.
To reiterate, Lucid has still not delivered its debut car.
4th Gear: Ford F-150 Recall
Ford has had problem after problem after problem with its launches in recent times. Indeed, still-new CEO Jim Farley knows that much of his remit is to fix this. And while the launch of the Mustang Mach-E seems to be going ... just fine, Ford has issued a recall for some 2021 F-150s, the first of the fourteenth generation. Nothing to see here, just windshields that could become dislodged during a crash.
Safety compliance recall for select 2020-21 Ford F-Series vehicles for windshield adhesion
Affected vehicles do not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards because the front windshields are inadequately bonded to the vehicle body structure. In the event of a crash, the windshield may not adequately stay in place, which may increase the risk of occupant injury.
This action affects 79,017 vehicles in the U.S. and federal territories, 6,986 in Canada and 1,347 in Mexico, including:
- 2021 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Truck Plant from Oct. 27, 2020, to Feb. 3, 2021
- 2020-21 Ford Super Duty vehicles built at Kentucky Truck Plant from Oct. 13, 2020, to Jan. 23, 2021
Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this condition.
Owner notifications will begin the week of April 6. Dealers will remove and reinstall the windshield using standard service procedures.
It’s not just Ford that has an issue with new product launches, and an old saw in car buying advice is to wait a year before buying the new thing, even if that may not be as persuasive as it once was. #makingcarsishard.
5th Gear: Mitsubishi Isn’t Done With Europe After All: Report
Mitsu said over the summer that it would be reducing its presence in Europe, which many took to mean that it would be exiting the European market entirely. Except now the Financial Times says that that isn’t the case. I will quote from this story a bit longer than usual because it’s so damn confusing:
Mitsubishi Motors is set to reverse its decision to withdraw from Europe and build cars in France after months of pressure from Renault and Nissan, in a sign of fresh rifts within the alliance.
Mitsubishi will formally consider the move at a board meeting on Thursday, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter, following months of fractious discussions with its alliance partners.
A framework agreement between the three carmakers was reached on Monday during an alliance meeting, two of the people said. They added that the deal may still fall apart.
An agreement to build Mitsubishi cars in France would be held up internally as a sign the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was working under new management teams installed after the arrest and ousting of former boss Carlos Ghosn in 2018.
But people within both Mitsubishi and Nissan have expressed concern about such a deal that would mean Renault building Mitsubishi cars — increasing work for its French plants and providing a political boost in the country, where it is cutting jobs.
Executives were particularly worried about a potential repetition of Renault’s 2001 decision to move the Nissan Micra from the Japanese group’s Sunderland plant to its own underperforming Flins factory outside Paris. This was seen as a political move by the French group to shore up union support.
Mitsubishi said there was no change in its policy to halt development of new models in Europe.
The long and short of it is that the FT has sources saying that Mitsu is not leaving Europe, because of some convoluted political nonsense in France, but Mitsubishi says that isn’t true. In any case, the FT says Mitsu had less than one percent market share in Europe in 2019. As you were.
This is one of the most bizarre episodes in Formula One history.
Neutral: How Are You?
T-minus five days until I begin my drive cross country eastward to New York City. I feel giddy in many ways, a feeling which will go away about an hour into the trip, when I’m in the middle of the desert on the lonely highway with hours more driving ahead.