Is Tesla's Stock Split Good For Investors?

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Thesis

After Q2 earnings, I updated my price target for Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock to $765 pre-split, which implies 14% downside from the current price. As I’ve shared in past articles (1, 2), the key assumption in my model is that Tesla grows at a 25% CAGR over the next decade primarily due to growth in electric vehicle sales. While the upcoming Tesla stock split isn’t material to my thesis, investors may have questions about how the split works, and I’ll attempt to answer some of the common ones in this article.

Stock Split FAQs

I covered Tesla’s stock split in my last article, but I’ll recap a few of the key questions and answers about the split here. Those who read my previous article or are experienced with stock splits can skip to the next section.

How Do Stock Splits Impact Your Investment?

The total value of your investment isn’t directly impacted by the stock split because a company’s market cap is unchanged by stock splits. The decrease in price per share is offset by the increase in the number of shares you own.

For example, say Tesla is worth $900 before the split and you have one share. After the split, you’ll have three shares, but each will be worth $300. Either way, you have $900. Of course, the value of Tesla stock may change as the market rises and falls from day to day, but that happens whether or not there’s a split going on.

It’s also worth noting that the price per share and price per options contract will be lower after the split, which will make non-fractional shares and options more accessible to small investors.

What Happens If You Buy Tesla Before The Split?

Buying Tesla stock before the split is not very different from buying it after the split or any other day. You’d buy 3x fewer shares before the split as you would after the split in order to keep the total amount invested the same.

When Will Tesla Stock Split?

You will get two additional shares of Tesla stock for each share you already own on Wednesday, Aug. 24, after the market closes. Shares will trade at their post-split price starting on Thursday, Aug. 25.

How Many Times Has Tesla Stock Split?

This will be the second time that Tesla splits its stock. Tesla previously did a 5-for-1 stock split on Aug. 31, 2020. Shares have risen over 100% since then.

Is Tesla’s Stock Split Good For Investors?

In other words, do stock splits impact performance? This is probably the most important question for most investors and also the most difficult to answer.

There’s some evidence that companies that split their stock outperform in aggregate in the short term, perhaps in part because splitting allows some stocks to be included in indexes like the Dow and increases their accessibility to retail investors. However, looking at individual stocks, there are many cases where a stock declines around the time of its split. Thus, I wouldn’t recommend betting on short-term price appreciation in a single stock because of its split.

However, splits certainly aren’t bad news. They usually only happen after a stock has increased in value a lot, as Tesla stock has done over the past few years. Winners tend to keep winning, so betting on companies that already have done well can be a successful strategy.

Also, companies usually won’t split their stock unless they believe that their share price will keep increasing. One reason is that there are minimum share price requirements to be listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq exchanges. That said, even at the post-split price of ~$300, Tesla is a long way from falling to the current $1 per share requirement.

Relative to more important considerations like earnings growth and valuation multiples, stock splits are essentially a neutral event for long-term investors. But in a vacuum, it’s clear that stock splits are more positive than negative.

Q2 Earnings

Because the stock split doesn’t impact Tesla’s fundamentals, I won’t adjust my target market cap for Tesla as a result of the split. However, I did update my price target for Tesla since my last article in June as a result of Tesla’s Q2 earnings. I shared my updated $767 target with Tech Investing Edge members after Tesla reported.

I was disappointed by the earnings, mostly because I found slowing revenue growth more disappointing than a 27% EPS beat was impressive. After management constantly talked about Tesla’s ability to maintain >50% revenue growth over the coming quarters, growth fell to 42% in Q2. Considering that most Tesla models are heavily backordered, management correctly blamed the slowdown on production issues rather than a lack of demand. Even so, they admitted that 50% growth would be a more difficult target to attain going forward as they work to ramp up production.

I’ve never believed Tesla’s 50% growth target, and model them growing at a 25% CAGR over the coming decade. Nevertheless, I did expect them to stay above 50% for at least a few more quarters considering management’s bullishness and my expectation for slower growth in the back half of the decade.

Despite the slowdown this quarter, I still think that my long-term 25% CAGR target is attainable, as even 42% growth is well above that level and management guided for a re-acceleration this quarter. Thus, despite being disappointed by the earnings, I raised my price target from $714 to $767 to account for Tesla’s now-larger ttm revenue and EPS.

Conclusion

Stock splits tend to get a lot of media coverage, but for long-term investors they’re not a big deal. Tesla has been able to split its stock multiple times because the company and Tesla stock have done very well, but that’s not a guarantee of future performance.

If Tesla continues beating analysts’ expectations and growing quickly, then the company and its investors will likely continue to do well. However, production issues and competition could stop Tesla from reaching this goal, and the current valuation doesn’t leave much room for error. Based on my own growth estimates and profitability model, I think that Tesla is slightly overvalued going into its stock split. Nevertheless, I view Tesla stock as a hold, since ~14% overvaluation isn’t extreme.

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