Tesla stock rises despite Musk selling $3.58B of its shares

Elon Musk sells $3.58B worth of Tesla stock, purpose unknown
Elon Musk arrives at the justice center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 13, 2021. According to a filing posted late Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk sold another $3.58 billion worth of Tesla stock during the week, but it wasn’t clear where the proceeds were being spent. Musk has sold nearly $23 billion worth of Tesla stock since April, with much of the money likely going to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Shares of Tesla rose slightly in midday trading Thursday despite news that CEO Elon Musk sold another $3.58 billion worth of the electric vehicle maker's stock this week.

The stock traded at $157.06 at midday, near its two-year lows, but it was faring better than the broader markets.

Musk, the new owner of Twitter, sold the shares from Monday through Wednesday, according to a filing posted Wednesday night by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It wasn't clear where the proceeds were being spent.

Musk has sold nearly $23 billion worth of Tesla stock since April, with much of the money likely going to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. Early last month he sold nearly $4 billion worth of Tesla shares, according to regulatory filings.

The sale comes as shares of the electric vehicle and solar panel maker have collapsed, losing over half their value since Musk first disclosed in April that he was buying up Twitter stock.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a client note that there's concerns as Musk seems to be changing the narrative of the Tesla story from the fundamental electric vehicle transformation story to becoming a source of funds to finance his Twitter acquisition.

"The Twitter nightmare continues as Musk uses Tesla as his own ATM machine to keep funding the red ink at Twitter which gets worse by the day as more advertisers flee the platform with controversy increasingly driven by Musk," Ives wrote.

The falling shares of Tesla have bumped Musk from his status as the world's wealthiest person, with his net worth falling to $174 billion, according to Forbes. He was passed last week by French fashion and cosmetics magnate Bernard Arnault. Most of Musk's wealth is tied up in shares of Tesla Inc.

The takeover of Twitter has not been smooth, and some big companies have halted advertising on the social media platform. Musk has said that Twitter had "a massive drop in revenue" due to the advertiser losses.

Investors have been punishing Tesla stock of late as Musk has spent much of his time running Twitter, raising fears that he's distracted from the car company.

Just this week Twitter dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform.

A message was left with Tesla Wednesday night seeking comment on the stock sale.

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