More than three months after Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced its intention to acquire SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY), CEO Elon Musk hasn’t answered the single most important question for investors yet, which is what return they should expect from such an investment.
When analyst Colin Rusch from Oppenheimer & Co. asked for “some sort of scope of return on capital” on the conference call after the acquisition announcement, Mr. Musk acknowledged the relevance of the question, saying “we will certainly have all that done for you, but the reason it’s not just all in a neat package is because this is a sort of an odd case where we have to tell you at the start of the process, before we have all the answers.”
Three months later Mr. Musk is running behind on his promise. The S-4 that has since been published, hasn’t been helpful either. It heavily relies on the dubious metrics that SolarCity has been using for years without presenting a new and serious look at what the business is actually worth.
Analysts and media seem a bit shy too to delve into the numbers. Those who are in favor of the deal generally stick to explanations like “If you don’t believe in Elon, why are you buying these stocks in the first place?” – an insight presented by equity analyst David Whiston (link).
As some of the Tesla bulls repeatedly say, it is easy to criticize Mr. Musk from the sidelines, while he is working hard to build his business empire. So let’s take a positive attitude here and offer some help. While Mr. Musk is engineering the first rocket which performance bar is larger than the vehicle itself – you can’t make this stuff up, can you – we’ll delve into SolarCity’s numbers to work out an actual fair value for the company.