Elon Musk urges investing legend Warren Buffett to buy a stake in Tesla—‘it’s an obvious move’

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Investing legend Warren Buffett is something of a White Whale for Tesla fans—reeling him as stakeholder verges on a Captain Ahab-style obsession. 

Landing the Berkshire Hathaway chair, a proponent of the same buy-and-hold philosophy prevalent among Tesla’s small shareholder base, would be the ultimate seal of approval for the EV maker. Conversely, the fact that the world’s savviest investor does not back Elon Musk, but rather his chief competitor, China’s BYD, rankles, since it calls into question the view that their totemic CEO is the Thomas Edison of our lifetime.

On Sunday, Musk renewed his appeal to the “Oracle of Omaha” to bless him and his company with a confidence-boosting investment. Responding to a post by Galileo Russell, former non-executive director of failed EV startup Arcimoto, that urged Buffett to buy Tesla shares, Musk agreed.

He should take a position in Tesla. It’s an obvious move.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 6, 2024

“He should take a position in Tesla,” he wrote. “It’s an obvious move.” 

Previously such an investment was unlikely as Buffett’s trusted friend and business partner Charlie Munger was not a fan of Musk.

“Munger could’ve invested in Tesla at ~$200M valuation when I had lunch with him in late 2008,” Musk revealed last February in a post that suggested no further discussions had been held in the subsequent fifteen years. 

Berkshire Hathaway spokesman Marc Hamburg could not be reached by Fortune for comment. 

Munger could’ve invested in Tesla at ~$200M valuation when I had lunch with him in late 2008

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2023

Munger’s passing in November shortly before his 100th birthday could in theory open the door to an investment by Berkshire Hathaway—Buffett is at least more admiring of the entrepreneur.

But he is also also tends to make safe bets in companies with strong brands like Apple and Coca-Cola or when he spots blood in the water, such as with his purchase of Goldman Sachs shares at the height of the Lehman crisis.

EV fundamentals deteriorate

Tesla by comparison has an unpredictable CEO who just sacked his entire Supercharger team—long considered an unbeatable strategic advantage—and is pivoting away from its core business selling cars toward robotaxis and robotics. At 56x estimated earnings for next year, the multiple isn’t attractive either for a value-minded investor like Buffett.  

Trying to be useful lately! pic.twitter.com/TlPF9YB61W

— Tesla Optimus (@Tesla_Optimus) May 5, 2024

The outlook for Musk’s EV business has darkened considerably as well. First-quarter global sales of Tesla dropped not just sequentially over the final three months of 2023, but year-on-year as well. That was the first such decline since the pandemic brought the global economy to a complete standstill in early 2020. 

The latest sign that Tesla’s car business is under severe pressure came on Monday, when Germany’s motor vehicle authority published new car registrations for the month of April. 

Tesla volumes dropped by a third over the previous year’s period, when EV makers still benefited from generous government subsidies that expired in December.

Tesla Robotaxi unveil on 8/8

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2024

Sales of Tesla cars in Germany are now down by 36% through the first four months. It is unclear how much if at all production stoppages at its Berlin plant may have affected the figure, as Tesla has plenty of finished cars in its inventory. 

The decline is reflective of a broader malaise that lead some to speculate Tesla volumes could even dip in 2024 for the full year, despite assurances last month by Musk that they will increase even if the rate of growth will be ‘notably lower’ than 38% from last year.

While Buffett is renowned for sniffing out undervalued companies, whether that includes Tesla at this point remains to be seen.

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