Tesla stock suffers worst week since 2020 as Elon Musk sells, large shareholder asks for new CEO

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Tesla Inc. shares Friday wrapped up their worst week since 2020, as Chief Executive Elon Musk sold billions in stock and faced a call from a prominent investor to step down from the helm of the electric-vehicle maker.

Tesla TSLA, -4.72% stock fell 4.7% Friday for a weekly decline of 16.1%, the fourth-worst week in history for the shares after a series of three weeks in late February and early March 2020, when investors sold stocks in fear of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects. Tesla ended the week with a market capitalization of less than $500 billion for the first time since November 2020, and the share price nearly fell lower than $150 for the first time since that month, ending the week at $150.05.

In-depth: Tesla investors await clues on demand, board actions and weigh downside risks in 2023

The decline occurred as Musk sold stock, which he has done repeatedly since November of 2021. Musk disclosed the sale of more than $3.5 billion in Tesla stock late Wednesday, after performing the trades over the three previous trading sessions, when the price declined a cumulative 12.4%. In total, the Tesla CEO has sold $39.3 billion worth of Tesla stock in the past 13 months, according to calculations from Dow Jones Market Data and MarketWatch.

The recent sales have seemed tied to Musk’s acquisition of the social-media platform Twitter, which he bought for roughly $44 billion this year. It is the second time he has sold stock since closing that deal in October.

See also: Elon Musk’s $5.7 billion mystery gift has been revealed

Musk has reportedly been spending much of his time at Twitter, which seems to have angered some prominent Tesla investors. Leo KoGuan, Tesla’s third-largest individual shareholder, publicly called for a new CEO on Twitter this week, as a chorus of previously boosterish accounts on the service expressed dismay at the stock decline and Musk’s actions.

Bullish analysts have also expressed concerns about Musk’s focus and stock sales. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, who has an outperform rating and $250 12-month price target on Tesla shares, wrote Thursday that “Musk continues to throw gasoline in the burning fire around the Tesla story by selling more stock and creating Tesla brand deterioration through his actions on Twitter.”

“The nightmare of Musk owning Twitter has been an episode out of the Twilight Zone that never ends and keeps getting worse,” Ives wrote. “In late April Musk said he was done selling Tesla stock, instead the exact opposite has happened and put massive pressure on Tesla shares which have significantly underperformed the market since Musk took over Twitter in late October.”

Opinion: Why Tesla investors are the biggest losers in Elon Musk’s Twitter deal

Tesla shares have now declined 57.4% so far in 2022, as the S&P 500 index SPX, -1.11% has declined 18.3%. Tesla’s market cap was $474.4 billion as of Friday’s close.

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