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Tesla’s Bitcoin bet is back in the black—big time

August 9, 2021, 3:56 PM UTC

Every time Bitcoin crashes to make Elon Musk’s famous bet look reckless, Tesla’s stake rebounds big and fast, handing the lead cryptocurrency’s fans still another “we told you so” moment. A amazing reversal flipping Tesla’s holdings from red to black just happened again. Tesla now owns 42,000 Bitcoin at an average cost of $31,700 per coin. At Bitcoin’s high point of over $64,000 in April, Musk’s wager had garnered realized and unrealized gains of almost 100%, or $1.5 billion. But that bounty gradually eroded as its price drifted downward, and, on June 20, Bitcoin slipped to a near multi-month low of $29,360. All of Tesla’s gains, both the $128 million profit on the 10% of its holdings sold in Q1, and the coins still on its books, totally vanished.

Then Bitcoin roared back. Musk changed personas as if he were back on Saturday Night Live, from riverboat gambler to an action hero rocketing into space. Just 10 days later, at the end of the quarter on June 30, Bitcoin’s price had jumped to $35,041, lifting the value of Tesla’s trove by 19% to $1.47 billion. By the market close on Aug. 6, Bitcoin leapt another 22% to $42,831.

From the trough on June 20, Tesla’s portfolio jumped $1.233 billion to $1.8 billion. In just two weeks, Tesla’s holdings swung from breakeven to a $570 million paper gain.

By Tesla’s standards, that’s big money. In Q2, the EV-maker posted its best quarterly results ever, earning $939 million before taxes and sales of regulatory credits, up from a loss in Q1. Hence, Tesla gained as much on Bitcoin from June 20 to Aug. 6 as it made selling EVs and batteries in its second quarter.

Elon doesn’t seem the least stressed over parking corporate cash in an asset so volatile that by selling on one of its spikes, Tesla could reap as much as an extra quarter’s earnings, and that if it collapses, could erase the quarter’s profits. If Tesla can build on its big earnings increase in Q1, shareholders will be a lot more relaxed about the boss’s Bitcoin lark. If Tesla fails to deliver big, they will quickly sour on Musk’s gambit as an adventure too far.

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