Tesla shares crossed a key milestone, potentially saving the company a lot of money

Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors, speaks during an event at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors, speaks during an event at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

Tesla’s shares hit a key milestone on Thursday that considerably eases pressure on the company.

Shares closed around $363 on Thursday, higher than the conversion price of $359.88 per share on the $920 million in convertible bonds due in March. It was the first time they closed above that price since August 8, the day after CEO Elon Musk issued his infamous tweet about having already secured the funding necessary to take Tesla private.

The stock has been under pressure since. Musk abandoned the plan by the end of August and was subsequently sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The two parties settled in October.

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But Tesla surprised investors that same month with a profitable third quarter, giving hope that the company’s production rates will improve. Musk said he now expects Tesla to be consistently profitable and cash flow positive. Before the October report, Tesla had posted a quarterly profit only twice since going public in 2010.

Tesla may choose to pay off that debt with a mixture of half cash and half stock, Bloomberg reported, citing documents. Using both cash and stock to pay off convertible debt might signal that Tesla is confident it can consistently generate cash and profits.

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