Musk Gets $4.3 Million of Stock Options for Model X Work

Elon Musk, the billionaire co-founder of Tesla Motors Inc., received $4.3 million in stock-based pay for work on the Model X sport-utility vehicle that the board found “probable” the company will complete later.

Chief Executive Officer Musk’s earnings made up more than 20 percent of the $19.3 million in stock-based compensation Tesla reported for the second quarter. The pay, which doesn’t vest unless the work gets done, was among three adjustments of more than $16 million that Tesla used to explain why its $30.5 million net loss should be seen as a $26.3 million profit.

On the adjusted basis, Tesla’s quarterly profit was 20 cents a share, or 5 cents, excluding an adjustment for lease accounting. That exceeded the average of 10 analysts’ estimates for a 20-cent loss, sending the shares up 14 percent on Aug. 8. Excluding stock-based compensation from net income is more common in Silicon Valley than in the global auto industry.

Tesla “is acting a lot more like a technology company than an automaker at this point,” said Kevin Tynan, a Bloomberg Industries auto analyst in Skillman, New Jersey. Granting the stock options for development work that hasn’t yet been completed isn’t a problem, he said.

“I wouldn’t think that is all that uncommon, especially if you’re on target,” he said.

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Tesla shares have quadrupled this year, as the 10-year-old company reported its first net income in the first quarter and its electric-powered Model S sedan was praised by Consumer Reports magazine as one of the best cars ever made.

The stock compensation was disclosed yesterday in a regulatory filing by the Palo Alto, California-based electric-car manufacturer. Musk’s stock compensation in the quarter was for completion of vehicle and engineering prototypes for the Model X and the completion of the first Model X production vehicle. The milestones were “considered probable of being met” as of June 30, according to the filing.

Sales of the Model X aren’t set to begin until late next year. During the earnings conference call, Musk said development of the vehicle is “swiftly rising” among Tesla’s priorities.

Musk’s stock-based compensation comes from a 2012 CEO Grant fund set up by the company in August 2012, Tesla said in the filing. The fund contains 5.3 million stock options and is released in 10 vesting portions when pre-determined performance targets are “probable of being met, regardless as to whether the related market condition is ever met.”

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The filing adds that “the market condition would also be required in order for the related options to ultimately vest.”

Shanna Hendriks, a Tesla spokeswoman, said that the company believes the three production targets related to the Model X are attainable.

“Model X will begin production at the end of 2014,” Hendriks said in an e-mail. “We are currently working on prototype vehicles.”

Other expenses the company excluded from its adjusted profit figure were $16 million for early repayment of a U.S. Energy Department loan and $19.3 million related to the start of its leasing program.

Musk accepts only $1 in annual salary from the company, according to Tesla’s most recent proxy filing. The CEO’s fortune jumped $570 million on Aug. 8, after shares of Tesla rose. Musk has a net worth of $7.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, up more than 220 percent this year. He’s the world’s 162nd-richest person.

Tesla shares fell 0.3 percent to $153 yesterday in Nasdaq trading.

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