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VW’s CEO Diess becomes stock market darling, imitates Elon Musk

Volkswagen AG has swiftly gone from company dinosaur standing to inventory market darling, and its chief govt officer’s imitation of Elon Musk has quite a bit to do with it.

Herbert Diess has taken a web page out of the Tesla CEO’s script for charming traders large and small, taking a hands-on position in getting VW’s message out on social media and staging splashy occasions large on ambition. It’s paying off — the carmaker’s widespread shares closed Tuesday at their highest since 2009.

The turnabout in sentiment on VW has been dramatic and sudden. Its market capitalization dropped final yr as Tesla vaulted previous all different automakers to develop into the world’s most respected by a large margin. However already this month, VW has added 31.6 billion euros ($37.6 billion) to its valuation, pushed by optimism it could possibly catch up and maybe even surpass Tesla in international electric-vehicle gross sales.

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The quantity of market worth added in March is nicely over half the full capitalization of Diess’s former employer, BMW AG, which set a objective Wednesday for roughly half of whole gross sales to be all-electric by the tip of the last decade.

Teardown, Targets

VW’s inventory began its ascent when UBS Group AG analysts issued a bullish set of experiences on its findings from tearing aside VW’s first mass-market mannequin constructed off a devoted EV platform, the ID.three hatchback. The automobile is “essentially the most credible EV effort by any legacy auto firm to date,” wrote Patrick Hummel, who raised his worth goal on the shares.

Very similar to Musk tries to dominate the information cycle, VW has made rapid-fire bulletins within the weeks since then. It took the wraps off a extra spacious model of the Porsche Taycan, doubled the VW model’s EV gross sales share goal for Europe and introduced by way of Diess’s LinkedIn and Twitter accounts that it could host an occasion just like Tesla’s “Battery Day” in September.

“VW’s Energy Day was a watershed occasion within the firm’s historical past,” Tom Narayan, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a report Wednesday, elevating his worth goal by roughly a 3rd. He stated VW’s battery-electric autos “ought to allow shares to re-rate increased given improved profitability.”

VW adopted up its declaration that it goals to construct six battery factories in Europe alone by the tip of the last decade with an annual earnings convention that it additionally selected to concentrate on EVs. The widespread shares soared as a lot as 29% intraday in Frankfurt, the largest soar since Porsche’s failed try to accumulate the corporate a dozen years in the past triggered a brief squeeze.

Much less Liquid

VW’s widespread inventory is far much less liquid than VW’s desire shares as a result of three holders — the Porsche and Piech household, the German state of Decrease Saxony and Qatar — maintain 90% of it. The desire shares completed Tuesday up 6.7% to shut on the highest since July 2015.

The outsize positive aspects by VW’s widespread inventory have been partly pushed by U.S. retail-investor shopping for and excessive brief curiosity, based on Ken Menager, a particular conditions strategist at Avalon Capital. VW’s American Depositary Receipts are primarily based on the common-share itemizing in Germany, and quantity has soared the previous few days.

Along with VW’s key shareholders, one large beneficiary of the share surge is Diess. A bit over a yr in the past, the 62-year-old CEO initiated a stock-buying plan with a standing order for 50,000 euros-worth of shares a month. The widespread inventory hovered round 100 euros in March of final yr, when the Covid-19 pandemic began to roil the worldwide automobile business. It’s now at 266.60 euros.

Whereas the wholesome positive aspects Diess has generated recently are nonetheless a far cry from what Musk pulled off final yr, they’ve partially made up for lowered compensation. The CEO’s wage, together with pension contributions, fell to 7.7 million euros final yr, from 8.four million in 2019, VW disclosed Tuesday in its annual report.

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