Elon Musk is only making noise about selling Tesla stock because the carmaker’s shares are falling.
That’s the contention of Michael Burry — the investor made famous in “The Big Short” for his financial crisis housing bets. In a now-deleted tweet, he suggested Musk is selling Tesla shares to cash out of his position as the stock plummets.
Burry, who’s betting Tesla stock will go down, said in his tweet posted during the wee hours of Monday morning: “Let’s face it. @elonmusk borrowed against 88.3 million shares, sold all his mansions, moved to Texas, and is asking @BernieSanders whether he should sell more stock. He doesn’t need cash. He just wants to sell $TSLA.”
The tweet comes as shares of Tesla have tumbled over the last week after Musk started making noise about selling. Over the last five days, the stock price of Tesla has fallen 16 percent — from well over $1,100 a share to less than $1,000.
The stock on Monday fell sharply again, pushing its market value below $1 trillion for the second time in four trading sessions. It was trading around $991 a share early Monday afternoon Eastern time.
Burry’s tweet doesn’t address the chicken-or-egg question of whether the stock would be falling so sharply if Musk hadn’t talked about selling.
Musk — ever the provocateur — doesn’t seem to be phased by volatility of the stock as he continues to tweet about possibly selling shares of the electric vehicle maker.
Last weekend, Musk asked Twitter followers if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla holdings after “much has been made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance.”
Some market watchers have speculated Musk could be talking about selling in preparation for a possible big tax bill if Democrats are able to pass a so-called wealth tax, though, beyond the tweet, Musk hasn’t commented specifically on any reasons he might have floated the idea of selling stock — or if he will indeed sell stock.
Last week, following Musk’s twitter poll, Burry suggested Musk needed to sell Tesla stock to pay off personal debts. Burry said, “There is the matter of the tax-free cash he took out in the form of personal loans backed by 88.3 million of his shares at June 30th.”
Musk for his part has not limited himself to posting merely about Tesla. He’s also taken shots at Democratic lawmakers including with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon with vulgar attacks.
In response to a tweet from Sanders, Musk wrote: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.” The weekend before, Musk hurled a vulgar insult at Wyden in a bizarre Twitter exchange over taxes.
To be sure it’s not all doom-and-gloom for the car maker. The stock price is still up more than 35 percent year-to-date. And over the last two years Tesla has jumped from $70 per share to nearly $1,000 per share Monday.