Those who've sold Tesla Motors (TSLA) shares for a million or more in gains belong to a new exclusive club, the "Teslanaires" club. If you've been following the stock price, you know this has been a great year to own those shares – since May of this year, after first quarter earnings were announced, the prices started shooting up. If you were fortunate to own a portfolio of Tesla stock, that value skyrocketed from around $40 a share in April to around $160 a share in September. The market cap has shot up to about $20 billion.
There are a few investors living in Northern California who haven't quite yet become Teslanaires, but they have been thrilled with their earnings so far. Patrick Hop, a 22-year-old senior from Millbrae, CA, who's been studying applied math at UC Berkely, has made about $250,000 on paper. Rod Stelling, a 69-year-old retired microbiologist who lives above the Bay Area in Napa Valley, put down $40,000 to reserve a Model S three years before it was built. He'd been so impressed with the high-performance electric car and the Tesla executive team that he invested soon after Tesla's IPO when shares were selling for around $17 in June 2010. So far, he's made $250,000 off his investment and paid for his Model S. Like other amateur investors who've plunked down cash on Tesla stock, there's been concern over the share price dropping and investments going down the drain. "My brother-in-law is still convinced they are going to fold. My money manager thinks I am crazy. He says we should diversify, but I'm not going to do that," Stelling told the Contra Costa Times.
"My money manager thinks we should diversify, but I'm not going to do that."
Some investors bought Tesla stock as a way to finance their purchase of the Model S or to build up reserves to cover the base price of $70,000. A few investors think of it like Apple or Google stock – the next big thing – and have invested their life savings against the advice of family, friends and financial advisers. It's been a thrilling rolling coaster ride for these investors, but there is a lot of risk for those who've put all their eggs in one basket. "A year ago Apple peaked at $705; now it's around $500. You should never put a disproportionate amount of your wealth into one stock," said Manny Schiffres, executive editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine.