Departing top Tesla exec cashes out almost his entire stake for $181 million as longtime bull Ron Baron calls bottom in the stock

Tesla CEO Elon Musk still has the faith of longtime investor Ron Baron.© Frederic J. Brown—AFP via Getty Image

Drew Baglino is cashing out. The former senior vice president in charge of powertrain engineering at Tesla liquidated virtually his entire stake in the company—worth $181 million—days after leaving the company last week.

In a regulatory disclosure, Tesla said Baglino has exercised the bulk of his vested stock options that converted into 1.14 million shares. He promptly dumped them onto the market on Wednesday, the day after Tesla filed its 10-Q statement, which was the earliest possible opportunity for a corporate insider.

The options were at risk of expiring 90 days after his departure, but Baglino could have elected to retain a portion of his shares.

Once a leading contender to replace Elon Musk on the Tesla throne, Baglino helped build the company’s lucrative business in commercial energy storage led by its industrial scale Megapack battery, now quite possibly its highest margin manufactured product.

But the solar roof business he runs dwindled to little more than a rounding error and Tesla this quarter stopped publishing deployment figures, its only reported metric. Worse the 4680 cell, once the foundational pillar that would ensure Tesla’s cost competitiveness over its rivals, has run into repeated manufacturing problems and is now effectively no longer core to its equity story.

“I don’t think its super important, at least in the near term,” Musk told investors on Tuesday, arguing Battery Day’s main unveil from 2020 was in reality little more than a hedge against the soaring cost of sourcing cells from battery suppliers.

“We did the cell program in order to address the crazy increase in cost per kilowatt hour from our suppliers due to gigantic orders placed by every carmaker on Earth,” Musk continued. Now that cell producers are stuck with excess capacity after incumbents like Ford have pulled back from the EV market, prices are a lot more favorable for Tesla.

Baron places faith in new strategy shift for low-cost EV

Baglino’s stock sale coincided with hopeful optimism from veteran Tesla investor Ron Baron on CNBC on Thursday. The head of Baron Capital, whose largest position is in Tesla, called the bottom for the stock.

“It’s going to go up huge. Now is the bottom,” he said, arguing the new strategy shift for its low-cost car would plug a yawning 1.2-million-unit hole across a production network capable of building 3 million cars annually—all without the need for additional capex spending.

But his frustration with the stock, up only 1% since this time last year and down overall since the start of 2021, was audible.

“It’s not so exciting to be up 1% in a year when the market is so strong,” he said. “I do look around all the time and see everyone getting rich—and I’m not poor, but I haven’t made a lot of progress over the last three years, so therefor I think it’s like a rubber band, I’m going to catch up again.”

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