Tesla’s Elon Musk nears $2.4 billion haul as stock keeps soaring

Anders Melin

It was sold as an all-or-nothing moonshot into space, the boldest pay package in corporate history.

Now, with Tesla Inc.’s stock on a seemingly unstoppable rise, Elon Musk is poised to collect the second tranche of his pay award, worth $2.4 billion.

Barring a sudden drop in the electric-car maker’s shares, the final performance threshold tied to market value should be met in a matter of days. That would unlock 1.69 million stock options, yielding Musk the 10-figure sum if he were to exercise and immediately sell the shares.

Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk smiles during an event at the Vehicle Assembly Building on Saturday, May 23, 2020, after a SpaceX flight at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. A rocket ship designed and built by SpaceX lifted off with two Americans on a history-making flight to the International Space Station.

The remarkable payout follows an equally remarkable ride for Tesla, whose shares have more than quadrupled this year and ballooned Musk’s net worth to $70.5 billion, making him the seventh-richest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The automaker is currently worth more than Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co. combined.

The rally has left Wall Street analysts struggling to make sense of the firm’s valuation, which topped $300 billion on Monday. Some have focused on the company’s work to improve batteries or the prospect that it may soon start selling cars in India.

Tesla is scheduled to release second-quarter results July 22. If it reports a profit, it would be the fourth consecutive such quarter – a milestone needed to be considered for inclusion in the S&P 500 Index.

Ambitious Targets

Musk, 49, has never accepted a salary, with his pay instead consisting of option awards that he can collect only if the California-based company meets ambitious targets.

The most recent iteration, unveiled in early 2018, was the largest-ever corporate pay deal struck between a company’s board and its chief executive officer. It includes 20.3 million options, split into 12 tranches, that could yield Musk more than $50 billion if all goals are met, according to Tesla’s estimates.

Getting all of it, however, is far from certain. Each tranche is tied to specific targets for revenue, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, as well as Tesla’s average trailing market capitalization over 30 days and six months. The first market-value threshold was set at $100 billion, with the others following in $50 billion increments.

Tesla reached its first milestones for sales and Ebitda – $20 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively – last year. And its 30-day market value average has been well above the $150 billion threshold for some time. Once the six-month average exceeds that level, Musk will claim the 1.69 million options and can exercise them at will.

Musk said on Twitter last week that he could cash in on some of his stock eventually to further the mission of his other most high-profile company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.