Tesla stock price slides again amid doubts over Elon Musk’s plans

Tesla’s stock woes are continuing amid worries about the viability of CEO Elon Musk’s plan to take the automaker private.

Tesla stock fell $3.86, or 1.3 percent, to $301.64 in Monday trading. In a Monday research note, JPMorgan analyst Ryan Brinkman discarded any notion that Musk would take the company private at $420 a share. His analysis pegged the company’s price target at $195 a share, down from his previous estimate of $308 per share.

Brinkman and his colleagues now “believe that funding was not secured for a going private transaction, nor was there any formal proposal,” they wrote, citing a blog post Aug. 13 in which Musk said the Saudi Public Investment Fund had requested more information about how a buyout might work. 

That bearish view comes after a Reuters report on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, a key piece of Musk’s plan to take Tesla private, was mulling purchasing a billion-dollar investment in rival electric-carmaker Lucid Motors, which would give it a controlling stake. 

The developments helped extend a slide that wiped out 14 percent of Tesla’s share value last week. Since Musk first tweeted about going private on Aug. 7, the stock has slid 20 percent, representing a loss of about $13.5 billion.

Not helping matters, Musk described the stress and lack of sleep he’s enduring in an emotional interview with the New York Times, prompting worries by board members and investors about his physical and emotional health. In a tweet early Sunday, Musk rebuffed a suggestion from Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington to take some time off, calling it “not” an option.

One analyst said Musk and Tesla investors face a difficult dilemma. To make Tesla function as an auto manufacturer, Musk needs to bring in other operators “before he burns out or worse,” wrote investment banker J. Christopher Whalen of Whalen Global Advisers. 

“But to do so means destroying the techno hype that has fueled Tesla toward equity valuation, enabling Musk to burn through billions in debt and equity capital based upon a promise of ‘green’ transportation,” he stated in a blog post.

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