- The Mormon Church’s $100 billion fund grew its Tesla stake by about 3,500% in 2020.
- Ensign Peak Advisors’ position ballooned in value from $1 million to $330 million.
- Tesla ranked among the fund’s 25 most-valuable holdings in December.
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Elon Musk has hawked Tesla-branded tequila and short shorts, smoked weed during a live podcast, and sparred with regulators over his Twitter habit. That didn’t stop the famously ascetic Mormon Church from boosting its stake in Musk’s electric-vehicle company by 3,500% last year.
Ensign Peak Advisors, the $100 billion investment fund owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, held fewer than 13,000 Tesla shares at the end of 2019, adjusted for the five-for-one stock split last August, SEC filings show. It increased its stake more than five-fold in the second quarter of 2020, then raised it by more than 50% the following quarter. Still not satisfied, it roughly quadrupled its position to 467,000 shares as of December 31 last year.
The fund’s aggressive buying, coupled with a 700% increase in Tesla’s stock price last year, led to its stake skyrocketing in value from $1 million to $330 million in the space of 12 months. Tesla was the 23rd most-valuable holding in Ensign’s US stock portfolio as of December, up from 1,487th on the list a year earlier. The most valuable was Apple, at just over $2 billion.
Tesla’s admission to the S&P 500 in December likely factored into Ensign’s decision to bolster their position. However, their purchases over the past year suggest they’re bullish on the stock despite its valuation. The company’s market capitalization sits above $600 billion – more than 19 times its total revenue and over 800 times its net income last year.
Tesla’s true believers see it as a trailblazer in the clean-energy revolution, poised to capture a big chunk of a market worth trillions of dollars. Meanwhile, critics question its eye-watering valuation, tiny scale relative to established automakers, and Musk’s erratic leadership. The Mormon Church is betting big that the first group are right.