Elon Musk Just Bought a Big Stake in Twitter Stock.

Elon Musk Just Bought a Big Stake in Twitter Stock.

Elon Musk Just Bought a Big Stake in Twitter Stock. Could He Take It Private?

TeslaCEO Elon Musk has taken a major interest in Twitterless than two weeks after criticizing the social media platform on free-speech grounds — and Twitter stock is soaring.


Twitter (ticker: TWTR) stock was up nearly 25% Monday after Musk purchased 9.2% of the social-media company’s stock, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tesla stock was up 3.4%. The  rose 0.3% , while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1%.


“Twitter has long been criticized for not realizing its full potential, and TWTR shareholders are hoping Musk can move the company in that direction,” wrote the folks at Bespoke Investment Group.


The performance of the two stocks couldn’t be more different over the past year. Tesla (TSLA) has gained 57% as it has become increasingly obvious that electric vehicles are the future of transportation and that Tesla has a huge lead over other car makers. Twitter, on the other hand, has dropped 39% as high-priced tech stocks were punished, largely for reasons outside their control.


One of the biggest was the Federal Reserve’s shift to tighter monetary policy, something that hits the valuations of high-priced growth companies. Twitter’s 12-month forward price/earnings ratio has fallen to 43.9 from 66.9 five months ago. Tesla has also had a tough time valuation-wise, but has been growing its profits in real-time, perhaps insulating the stock somewhat from higher rates even as its P/E has fallen to 92.1 from 158.3 five months ago.


Now Musk has given Twitter stock a big lift. His stake in Twitter is said to be a passive one, but as the stock’s reaction shows little Musk does is passive, and just his presence is giving Twitter a big boost. Musk recently used Twitter to argue that Twitter needs to “adhere to free speech principles fundamentally.”


Twitter and Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


Musk described himself as a free “speech absolutist” shortly after delivering Starlink internet connectivity to Ukraine to help in that country’s battle against invading Russian forces. Musk refused to block Russian news sources, despite his support of Ukraine.


Starlink is the space-based, high-speed internet service offered by SpaceX, another company founded by Musk. There are more than 250,000 Starlink terminals in operation as of mid-February.


The stake in Twitter does appear to remove one small risk for Twitter — that Musk would start his own social media platform. That possibility picked up momentum after Musk tweeted “is a new platform needed?” in late March.


Wedbush analyst Dan Ives expects Musk’s stake to become less passive over time.


“Given Musk’s long standing critical view of Twitter and social media platforms, it was viewed that Musk could look to build a new social media platform to compete with Twitter and others,” he wrote. “Instead it looks like Elon has his eyes laser set on Twitter and we would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake and a potential more aggressive ownership role of Twitter.”


Ives doesn’t cover Twitter stock. He covers Tesla, rating shares a Buy. His price target is $1,400 a share. Gordon Haskett analyst Don Bilson also doesn’t cover Twitter. He writes about special situations, like the richest man in the world acquiring a sizeable stake in a social media platform.


Bilson pointed out in a note Monday that Musk has a pre-existing relationship with private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners. Silver Lake bought a large stake in Twitter a couple of years back. Silver Lake is still an investor.

“We don’t think anyone should sleep on the idea that Musk and Silver Lake might take [Twitter] private,” wrote Bilson. “As we see it, this is sort of a Ryan Cohen move on steroids. Cohen, of course, is the Chewyfounder who lit a fire under GameStopand is now working on a project at Bed, Bath & Beyond.”

There’s a lot going on. And what happens next will determine whether Twitter’s bounce will last.


Levisohn, B., & Root, A. (2022, April 4). Twitter Stock Soars After Tesla’s Elon Musk Buys a Big Stake. What’s Next. Barron’s. https://www.barrons.com/articles/twitter-elon-musk-buys-stock-51649068816

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