Tesla’s stock soars after surprise SEC settlement, hint of profitability from Musk

Tesla Inc. shares soared Monday as a surprise settlement with U.S. securities regulators removed a cloud over the car maker and outspoken CEO Elon Musk kept his key leadership role.

The stock got another boost from a report that Musk told employees that the company was “very close” to turning a profit. That report from Bloomberg News emerged hours after Tesla and Musk settled a Securities and Exchange fraud probe.

Tesla shares TSLA, +17.43%  jumped more than 16%, and were on track for their highest daily return in five years, according to FactSet data. Gains more than offset a 14% plunge on Friday on news of the SEC lawsuit, which alleged Musk misled investors over his tweet that said he was considering taking the company private and had “funding secured” for the deal.

Tesla’s sole junk bond issue also rallied on the news. The $1.8 billion of 5.200% notes that mature in August of 2025 jumped more than 4 points in early trade to 88 cents on the dollar, sending the yield down to 7.571%. The notes tightened by 58 basis points to a spread of 449 basis points over comparable Treasurys.

Read more: Tesla ‘very close’ to profitability, Elon Musk tells employees

Under the agreement with regulators, reached on Saturday, Musk is barred from serving as chairman for at least three years, Musk and Tesla each will pay a $20 million fine, and Tesla must name two new independent directors, one of which can be the new chair.

With that over, the focus “can now return to fundamentals,” Baird analysts Ben Kallo and David Katter said in a note to clients. There are several upcoming catalysts, including third-quarter delivery numbers this week, to take shares higher, they said. The analysts kept their $411 price target on the stock and an outperform rating.

“Importantly, we think Model 3 production may be on track to meet guidance, based on company announcements and leaked production numbers,” the Baird researchers said.

As for expected changes to Tesla’s corporate governance resulting from the SEC agreement, investors and market participants appeared to be sanguine about the bolstering of the leadership ranks at the car maker.

“Some investors have previously pointed to perceived weak corporate governance as a barrier to owning the stock; we believe changes to the (Tesla’s) board should make the stock easier to own for certain investors,” said the analysts.

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