February 19, 2014 in Business

Tesla closes at record after report of meeting with Apple

Jerry Hirsch Los Angeles Times
 

Rumors of a possible acquisition by Apple Inc. and expectations for a strong fourth quarter drove shares of Tesla Motors Inc. to $203.70 Tuesday, a 3 percent gain and a closing high for the electric car company.

It was the first time Tesla closed over $200.

Investors were reacting to reports of a meeting between Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer and co-founder, and Apple’s Adrian Perica, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who heads Apple’s mergers and acquisitions team, analysts said.

The meeting occurred in early 2013 but was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle this week, citing unnamed sources.

“There is a lot of pressure on Apple right now to find new markets to grow in,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

But Apple taking a bite of Tesla seems unlikely, he said.

Tuesday’s closing stock price left Tesla with a market valuation of $25 billion, about $1.1 million for each of the 22,450 Model S cars it sold last year. The cars sell for $70,000 to $100,000, depending on options.

Apple has never tossed around the billions to purchase companies in the same way that technology rivals Google and Microsoft have.

“I see this as highly improbable,” Irwin said. “But it is one of the things that drives enthusiasm for the stock.”

If there was real evidence of any merger talks, Tesla’s stock would have closed much higher than a 3 percent gain, said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst with Gartner Inc.

Koslowski said it should be no surprise that senior executives from Tesla and Apple have met. Tesla also has likely talked to Google Inc., he said.

“It is a natural. These are technology companies in Silicon Valley,” he said. “They would talk together to see where there would be synergies.”

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