Tesla, Inc. CEO Elon Musk should sell about 10 per cent of his company stock, according to 57.9 per cent of people who voted on his Twitter poll asking users of the social media network whether he should offload the stake.
“I was prepared to accept either outcome,” Musk said, after the voting ended.
The world’s richest person tweeted on Saturday that he would offload 10 per cent of his stock if users approved the proposal. Musk has previously said he would have to exercise a large number of stock options in the next three months, which would create a big tax bill. Selling some of his stock could free up funds to pay the taxes.
As of June 30, Musk’s shareholding in Tesla came to about 170.5 million shares, and selling 10 per cent would amount to close to $21 billion US based on Friday’s closing, according to Reuters calculations.
The poll garnered more than 3.5 million votes.
“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” Musk said on Saturday, adding that he does not take cash salary or bonus “from anywhere,” and only has stock.
Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.<br><br>Do you support this?
U.S. Senate Democrats have unveiled a proposal to tax billionaires’ stocks and other tradeable assets to help finance President Joe Biden’s social spending agenda and fill a loophole that has allowed them to defer capital gains taxes indefinitely.
Musk has criticized the proposal, saying, “Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you.”
Tesla valued at over $1T
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who chairs the Senate’s finance committee and floated the tax proposal, said on Saturday: “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll.”
He added, “It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.”
Including stock options, Musk owns a 23 per cent stake in Tesla, the world’s most valuable car company whose market value recently exceeded $1 trillion US. He also owns other valuable companies, including SpaceX.
His brother, Kimbal Musk, on Friday sold 88,500 Tesla shares, becoming the latest board member to offload a large number of Tesla stock, which hit record highs.
Gary Black, a portfolio manager at The Future Fund who’s bullish on Tesla, tweeted that Musk’s potential stock sale would lead to “1-2 days of modest selling pressure” but that there would be solid institutional demand to snap up the shares at a discount.
Wrong. There are $3T active growth managers underweight by an avg 26% (per BOA) x 4% weight = $30B in AUM who’d like to buy <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%24TSLA&src=ctag&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>$TSLA</a> at a discount. That’s 25M shares of potential demand who could easily buy Elon’s 17M shares. It’ll be 1-2 days of modest selling pressure. <a href=”https://t.co/ZXmQBbKhAi”>https://t.co/ZXmQBbKhAi</a>
Musk has said he did not want to borrow against stock to pay taxes because stock value could go down.
He has an option to buy 22.86 million shares at $6.24 US each, which expires on Aug. 13, 2022, according to a Tesla filing. The option exercise could lead to gains of roughly $28 billion US based on Tesla’s Friday closing price of $1,222.09 US.
In September, Musk said he is likely to pay taxes of over half the gains he would make from exercising options. Last year, he said he relocated from California to Texas, which should lead to a cut to the total tax bill because Texas has no income tax, experts say.
“[It] seems crazy to borrow that much to pay taxes, so I have to assume he’d need to liquidate a substantial amount of the shares purchased from the option exercise to pay taxes,” said Bryan Springmeyer, a lawyer at San Francisco-based law firm Springmeyer Law.
In a proposed class-action lawsuit filed earlier this week, Twitter shareholders accused Musk of engaging in market manipulation during his acquisition bid, alleging he violated California’s corporate laws along the way. Twitter itself was also named as a defendant.
The complaint, filed in a San Francisco federal district court, accuses Musk of intentionally lowering Twitter’s stock value. The suit alleges Musk did this because the $12.5 billion he pledged as collateral for the acquisition was secured using his Tesla stock which has since declined by 37%. That decline, the suit alleges, put Musk in the uncomfortable position of potentially having to fork over more of his own money to make up the difference. Purposely lowering Twitter’s value, in this scenario, could theoretically serve as a corporate get out of jail free card.
The suit claims Musk “proceeded to make statements, send tweets, and engage in conduct designed to create doubt about the deal and drive Twitter’s stock down substantially in order to create leverage.” That leverage could potentially allow Musk to back out of the deal entirely or renegotiate for a substantially lower price. The shareholders also call bullshit on Musk’s supposed concern with bots on the platform and claim he “knew all about the fake accounts.”
“Musk’s conduct was, and continues to be illegal, in violation of the California Corporation’s Code, and contrary to the contractual terms he agreed to in the deal,” the lawsuit reads.
At least the first half of that alleged plan—intentional or not—seems to have worked. According to the suit, Twitter has lost $8 billion in valuation since the buyout was first announced. It’s worth noting though that Twitter’s far from the only tech stock to see a dip in recent weeks.
The shareholders’ beef with Musk predates the acquisition. Specifically, the suit takes issue with Musk’s April disclosure that he had acquired a 9% stake in the company. The suit alleges Musk didn’t disclose that in time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, an omission that benefits Musk by more than $156 million.
Musk’s actions, the suit claims, harmed both Twitter shareholders and Twitter employees. The suit seeks damage for all Twitter shareholders and calls for injunctive relief from the court, which if granted could potentially force Musk to follow through with the acquisition at the original price.
U.S. stocks jumped on Friday, with the major indexes ending a weeks-long losing streak after a string of more upbeat corporate results at least temporarily offset fears of a steep economic slide.
The S&P 500 rallied into the close, gaining 2.5% to end at 4,158.24. The blue-chip index ended a seven-week losing streak and posted its best week since Nov. 2020, rising by more than 6.5% since last Friday. The S&P 500 also erased its losses for the month of May to date.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 576 points, or 1.8%, on Friday to end at 33,212.96, and the Nasdaq Composite added more than 3% to close at 12,131.13.
Investors digested a fresh set of economic data earlier on Friday, including the latest print on core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) — the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of underlying inflation. These showed inflationary pressures eased only modestly in April compared to March, echoing results from the still-elevated Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index released from earlier this month. Headline PCE increased 6.3% in April over last year compared to March’s 6.6% increase, and core PCE rose by 4.9% compared to 5.2% in the prior month. But separate data also showed personal spending, adjusted for inflation, accelerated in April compared to March.
Over the past several sessions, investors have weighed favorably the most recent batch of quarterly results and guidance from retailers like Macy’s (M), Nordstrom (JWN), Dollar General (DG) and Dollar Tree (DLTR). These companies largely exceeded Wall Street’s estimates, helping assuage concerns that the profit pressures reported recently by Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Kohl’s (KSS) were reverberating equally across all consumer-facing firms. And outside of retail, airlines including JetBlue (JBLU) and Southwest (LUV) raised their sales guidance for the current quarter, suggesting demand remained strong for discretionary travel.
“Overall the U.S. consumer still remains in great shape. They came into these price hikes, this inflation, with cushion on their balance sheet. Certainly employment is high, so the overall U.S. consumer remains in a very strong place,” Brent Schutte, chief investment officer at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management, told Yahoo Finance Live.
“The big fear was that inflation was going to continue to run away and cause the Fed to have to tighten the U.S. economy into a recession,” he added. “I think we’re all starting to gradually wake up to the reality that goods spending … was pulled forward. Inventories have been rebuilt, and goods spending has caused the inflation that you’re seeing. That’s going to roll over as people move over to service sector spending.”
“And so it may feel like a recession in some parts of the economy, but other parts of the economy are going to do well,” Schutte said. “Inflation is going to fall, and the Fed is going to go a bit easier.”
However, other strategists cast doubt on the staying power of gains seen in the market so far this week, especially as inflation has shown few meaningful signs of coming down in a substantial way to date.
“This is nothing more than a bear bounce in our opinion. When you look at these bounces we’ve had, they’ve been on very light volume, there’s not a lot of conviction,” Eddie Ghabour, co-founder and managing partner of Key Advisors Group, told Yahoo Finance Live. “The data that we’re getting now that’s been causing this sell-off, remember, is first-quarter data. The data coming in the second quarter is going to be worse than the first quarter. And we’re not going to get that news until July … So I think we’re going to have a very treacherous market in the next few months.”
4:03 p.m. ET: Stocks post best week since Nov. 2020 as S&P 500 erases May losses
Here’s where markets closed out the session on Friday:
Gold (GC=F): +$4.50 (+0.24%) to $1,858.40 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.7 bps to yield 2.7290%
10:06 a.m. ET: Consumer sentiment weakened in late May to lowest since 2011
Consumer sentiment fell further in late May, largely on account of concerns around inflation and business conditions in the near-term.
The University of Michigan’s final monthly sentiment index decreased to 58.4, which was downwardly revised from the 59.1 previously reported for the month. Subindices tracking consumers’ views on current conditions and future expectations were each also slightly downwardly revised, and one-year inflation expectations were little changed at 5.3%.
The latest sentiment drop “was largely driven by continued negative views on current buying conditions for houses and durables, as well as consumers’ future outlook for the economy, primarily due to concerns over inflation,” Joanne Hsu, Surveys of Consumers director, wrote in a statement. “At the same time, consumers expressed less pessimism over future prospects for their personal finances than over future business conditions.”
“Looking into the long term, a majority of consumers expected their financial situation to improve over the next five years; this share is essentially unchanged during 2022,” Hsu added. “A stable outlook for personal finances may currently support consumer spending. Still, persistently negative views of the economy may come to dominate personal factors in influencing consumer behavior in the future.”
9:32 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher
Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:32 a.m. ET:
The advance goods trade balance showed a deficit of $105.9 for the U.S. in April, the Commerce Department said Friday. This followed a gap of $125.9 billion in March, which was upwardly revised from $125.3 billion last month.
8:42 a.m. ET: Real personal spending accelerates in April, while saving rate slides to lowest since 2008
U.S. consumers kept spending last month even as inflation remained elevated, as one of the key contributors to U.S. economic activity held up into the spring. However, the personal saving rate dwindled to the lowest level in over a decade, raising some concerns over how much longer spending might manage to prop up the economy.
Real personal spending rose 0.7% month-on-month in April, the Bureau of Economic said Friday, accelerated from March’s 0.2% rise. Unadjusted for inflation, personal spending was up 0.9%, exceeding consensus economist expectations for a 0.8% increase, according to Bloomberg data. This metric had risen by 1.1% in March.
Personal income, however, decelerated slightly last month, rising 0.4% after March’s 0.5% increase. And the personal saving rate, or proportion of disposable personal income set aside to savings, fell to 4.4% from March’s 5.0%, reaching the lowest level since 2008. After soaring during the pandemic, the saving rate has now come in well below the average of 2019 before the outbreak, when the saving rate had averaged over 7%.
8:38 a.m. ET: Inflation eases just slightly in April as PCE rises 6.3% year-over-year
Inflation as measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index eased only modestly in April compared to March, with fast-rising prices showing few signs of slowing down across the U.S. economy.
The broadest measure of PCE rose 0.2% in April month-on-month, which matched consensus economist expectations, according to Bloomberg data. This compared to a 0.9% monthly increase in March. On a year-over-year basis, however, PCE still soared by 6.3%, coming in slightly hotter than expected and moderating only slightly from March’s 6.6% annual rise.
Core PCE, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, also remained hot and rose 4.9% in April over last year. That matched estimates, and followed a 5.2% rise in March. February’s reading of 5.3% had been the highest since 1983.
7:23 a.m. ET: Stock futures rise as indexes look to log weekly gains
Here’s where markets were trading Friday morning:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +11 points (+0.27%) to 4,066.75
Dow futures (YM=F): +26 points (+0.08%) to 32,626.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +54.25 points (+0.44%) to 12,333.50
OTTAWA — Canada could ship clean hydrogen to Europe in the future to help wean it from its dependency on Russian oil and gas, say federal ministers.
At meetings with G7 counterparts in Berlin this week, Natural Resources Minster Jonathan Wilkinson and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canada is investing in the development of clean hydrogen, which could help Europe reduce its reliance on Vladimir Putin’s regime for energy.
Canada also played a key role in persuading the G7 — which includes the United States — to phase out international financing of fossil fuel projects by the end of the year, the federal government said. Canada made its own commitment to do so at the COP26 climate-change conference in Glasgow last year.
The pledge at the G7 meeting was part of a package of measures agreed upon to combat climate change, including global action to phase out coal-fired power.
Wilkinson and Guilbeault also pushed for a G7 “hydrogen action pact,” focused on the role hydrogen can play as a clean energy source for the future.
The government has been supporting the development of clean hydrogen, a low-carbon fuel, including in Atlantic Canada, which is closer to Europe than Alberta and Saskatchewan, making it easier to ship.
“Canada remains steadfast in leading the global energy markets and security to ensure support for the international community,” Wilkinson said in a statement.
European countries, including Germany, have made it clear they want to be less reliant on Russian oil and gas.
Earlier this month, EU president Ursula von der Leyen announced a plan to phase out all Russian oil from Europe by early next year, in protest of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But Hungary, which is heavily reliant on Russian fossil fuel, has been opposing the move.
In an interview from Berlin, Guilbeault said “in the short term,” Canada may be able to supply European countries with liquefied natural gas as an alternative to energy from Russia.
But “in the middle or long term,” Canada could play a crucial part in supplying Europe with hydrogen.
“Germany, for example, is dependent 55 per cent on Russian gas, and they don’t want that any more. They wanted to diminish and eliminate dependencies to Russian gas,” he said.
Guilbeault said Canada is already one of the largest producers of hydrogen in the world.
“We can be a player, an important player in the hydrogen economy if we seize those opportunities,” he said.
After the meeting ended he said in a statement: “G7 leaders have clearly said that securing energy security and fighting climate change are mutually reinforcing goals.”
The G7 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the European Union also attending meetings.
In Berlin, G7 nations made significant progress on the global phaseout of coal-fired power, and decarbonizing electricity systems by 2035, the federal government said.
David Ryfisch, international climate policy lead at advocacy group Germanwatch, said the “decarbonization” of electricity sectors “represents a major breakthrough and a clear signal for more renewables and energy efficiency investments.”
“What is lacking is an explicit date for a coal phaseout,” he said. “In order to be able to put pressure on other major emitters to get out of coal, the G7 needs to be very clear that they will end coal by 2030.”
G7 members agreed to double climate financing to help developing countries become greener, as part of the $100-billion commitment.
Guilbeault also argued at the G7 for measures to protect biodiversity and a new legally-binding global agreement to reduce plastic waste.
Last year, the environment minister announced plans to ban harmful single-use plastics in Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
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