• Wed. Jan 19th, 2022


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Elon Musk Breaks Up With Bitcoin—or Maybe Not. Tesla Shares Surge. – Barron’s

Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Bitcoin just might be the reason that Tesla stock ticked up Friday, finally giving relief to investors after a week of misery.

The reason could be that CEO Elon Musk broke up with the cryptocurrency late Thursday—in a tweet.

Musk’s message seemed to push up Tesla (ticker: TSLA) and bring down Bitcoin. In early trading Friday, Bitcoin dropped about $2,000, or 5%, to roughly $36,600. Tesla, though, surged about 3.7% in midday trading. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, for comparison, are up 0.7% and 0.2%, respectively. The stock had been down about 8% for the week.

Musk’s tweet was characteristically cryptic—#Bitcoin with a broken heart emoji and a meme about how breaking up is hard to do.

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A tweet is a strange reason to attribute a big move in a S&P 500 stock—or even a cryptocurrency—but Musk’s musings are known to pack a punch.

The chief executive gave Bitcoin a boost when Tesla decided to invest corporate cash in the crypto back in January. Tesla’s later decision, in March, to accept Bitcoin as payment for vehicles sent the cryptocurrency north of $60,000.

Then, Musk’s ardor for Bitcoin started cooling. Tesla stopped accepting the crypto for its vehicles in May due to environmental reasons. At the time, Musk tweeted that Tesla hadn’t sold any of its Bitcoin holdings. Thursday’s tweet might mean Tesla is selling.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

After a wild ride, Tesla is just about flat on its Bitcoin investment. It’s no longer sitting on a large gain, but doesn’t have a significant loss either. Any prior gains and losses in Bitcoin holdings hasn’t moved Tesla stock significantly. Tesla shares are done about 30% since its original position was disclosed. Other things have impacted the share price since then, including rising interest rates, but Musk’s fascination with cryptos has played some role—even if small.

Still, there is no guarantee Musk is going to sell Tesla’s Bitcoin stake. An hour after his breakup tweet, Musk tweeted another meme—“I miss you.”

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Musk clearly has the ability to influence investors—at least with those who are into Bitcoin. Now, the key is to keep tracking his tweets, particularly the days that he takes to Twitter. His Thursday tweet looks like it moved both the crypto and the stock. But only time will really tell. Tesla shares rising on Fridays has become a thing the past several weeks. The stock tends to be weak throughout Monday through Thursday, and gains back some of its losses just before the weekend.

It’s, frankly, an odd observation. Looking at trading patterns for a stock by weekday doesn’t feel like it makes a lot of sense. But neither does analyzing emojis.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com