Investor Ron Baron has been one of Tesla’s largest shareholders for years, and he has no plans to change that.
Baron told CNBC on Thursday that he thinks the electric vehicle giant’s high-flying stock has much more room to run – and that he plans to continue holding the company’s stock for at least eight more years.
“I think we’re going to make three, four, five times our money on Tesla from here,” Baron said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I think for Tesla this is the very beginning of what they’re doing.”
Baron’s namesake firm, Baron Capital, invested about $380 million in Tesla between 2014 and 2016 at an average price of just over $50 per share . It now has about 12.8% of its total assets under management invested in Tesla, or about $6.2 billion, following the EV maker’s stratospheric run-up over the last few years.
But Baron is nowhere near ready to cash out. Asked if he expects to be holding Tesla stock in eight to 10 years, Baron said yes – even though, as he noted, his firm sold about a billion dollars’ worth of Tesla stock in a bid to reduce investors’ risk and might trim its stand again in the future.
“I was getting widely criticized for having such a large percentage of my [firm’s] assets in one stock, and people said how can you be so crazy,” Baron said, explaining the decision to trim the firm’s Tesla stake. “I wanted them to think I wasn’t crazy.”
Baron told CNBC that investors should look past near-term speed bumps like the company’s recent miss on deliveries. Tesla delivered about 310,000 vehicles in the first quarter, falling about 7,000 vehicles short of Wall Street’s consensus estimate.
“People said they should have done 317,000 cars in the quarter,” Baron said. “In four years they’ll do a million cars a quarter, and if you go 10 years out it’s something like five million cars a quarter.”
At 5 million vehicles a quarter, or 20 million per year, Tesla’s automotive business would be roughly the size of Toyota and Volkswagen – currently the world’s two largest automakers – combined.
Baron remains an ardent fan of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and said that he isn’t worried that Musk’s recent decision to invest in Twitter will become a distraction. Musk also joined the social media company’s board.
“I just think this [investment in Twitter] is helping his marketing,” Baron said. “There’s no way he’s taking his eye off the ball or anything.”
Shares of Tesla were effectively flat in premarket trading Thursday.