Elon Musk is both a hoser and a savior; it just depends on which part of the seesaw you are on.
For years now, I have been saying if you like Tesla (TSLA), buy the car, not the stock. I have been saying that because Elon Musk is about seizing an opportunity to make as many cars as possible and the cars are fabulous. I love them.
I have not criticized his vision. I have test driven and loved and had to talk my daughter down from a ledge when I told her about the waiting list for the Model 3.
But Musk is on a mission to reinvent the electric grid, not just the car, and to do that he had to be willing to raise a ton of equity at $215 and then have everyone who buys it get clobbered soon after, when he launched last night's bid for SolarCity (SCTY).
Now, you could say that he is totally self-serving, because he is the largest shareholder in SolarCity; but he is also the largest in Tesla, so he is losing a lot more on the offer than he is getting. About four times more.
So while he is totally conflicted, he's not tilting for himself, he is tilting against himself.
No matter; a man on a mission to reinvent the grid, to make it less fossil fuel oriented and more sustainable, is not a man who is thinking "wow, I don't want to hurt all of those people who just bought all of that Tesla stock at $215 when I was raising money for the new Model 3 plant."
He's a man who says "OK, the short sellers -- 40% of the stock is sold short -- have knocked this company down to a level where it is too much of a bargain and it will be part of a soup-to-nuts solar program that I can offer people."
That's right, he wants you to retain solar power via his panels from the sun, store it in one of his batteries and pump it into one of his cars, and he's not at all that influenced by short-term profit, or he wouldn't take the hammering of the decline in Tesla's stock that he pretty much mandated last night.
Now, SolarCity's been down 60% for the year and it had gotten really ugly. At the time of that last quarter, I pointed out that there truly was no real plan, beyond finding some way to get people to pay for solar panels and getting a lot of government credits. In fact, it has actually been mentioned by the bears of late as a great way to play the short side of the credit cycle.
In other words, SolarCity, the stock, got crushed because it deserved to. But SolarCity the company? That's all in the eye of the beholder, and that beholder is none other than Musk himself. He's also the biggest holder. Beholder, biggest holder, whatever.
But it all brings me back to the fundamental point. Musk is a visionary, and you may share his vision. So buy his batteries, put up his solar panels and by all means get a Tesla -- I want one -- but understand that this morning you are down big because of a decision he made that he knew would send you down big.
And he didn't care.