There are some advantages to devoting yourself wholly to one project or cause. For Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, one of those advantages came in the form of a $1.1 billion payday on Tuesday, as Tesla’s stock shot up over the $250 market to set record highs. It was helped too, by his other project, Solar City (NASDAQ:SCTY), which also closed at a record high.
Musk has famously said that his money “was the first in, and will be the last out” in regards to his holding in the electric vehicle maker. He’s Tesla’s biggest shareholder (also Solar City’s), and now has a net worth of about $11.7 billion. That makes him the world’s 94th wealthiest individual, and if it weren’t for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, he would be leading for wealth gains this year.
Tesla’s valuation on the Nasdaq now stands at $30.4 billion, a colossal figure that’s over half the valuation of General Motors or Ford — yet Tesla delivered just 22,400 vehicles in 2013, and they were all the same model. It’s apparent that investors are looking to cash in on the idea of Tesla, which is a decidedly good one — but now Tesla has some mighty large shoes to fill in the next couple of years.
Driving the tremendous growth this week was the tailwind of another surprisingly good quarter, which was accompanied by a strong outlook. A bullish note from analysts at Morgan Stanley discussed the opportunity for Tesla’s rumored giga-factory, a massive facility that Tesla hopes to construct to help it meet the large demand for battery cells that the company requires.
Of all the battery cells used during 2013, Tesla accounted for about a third of them, Green Car Reports said. That number will only grow as Tesla’s production continues to ramp, so a giant factory makes sense. Musk also hinted that Panasonic, or another large firm, would be helping Tesla shoulder the burden of investing in such a facility.
On top of all that, Consumer Reports adorned the Model S sedan as the best overall vehicle for 2014, further spurring enthusiasm that the car has what it takes to become a global contender once Tesla gets all its various feet planted.
Is the valuation of the company totally atmospheric and bubble-like? Absolutely. But in today’s investing world, where so much money is put on seemingly intangible assets (Facebook’s $19 billion WhatsApp purchase comes to mind), it seems to be a part of the new paradigm for investing in technology. The automotive sector has hardly seen a shakeup in the form of a company like Tesla, and now that it’s here, investors are putting their full weight behind the one firm that seems to stand a chance.