- Tesla’s Feb. 28 announcement that it will close all physical stores was so unexpected that it prompted one registered investment advisor to dump its entire stake in the company.
- Tesla has since reversed its decision, but Alex Chalekian — the CEO of Lake Avenue Financial — still feels it’s not in the best interests of his clients to hold the company’s shares.
- In an interview with Business Insider, he outlined the issues he has with Tesla and Elon Musk, and where his firm is investing instead.
Alex Chalekian weighed selling his firm’s stake in Tesla for a whole year before finally pulling the trigger on March 1.
The founder and CEO of Lake Avenue Financial didn’t wait for that long because he couldn’t find excuses to sell. After all, the electric-car maker was mired in a self-described “production hell,” and its CEO Elon Musk became the subject of an SEC investigation.
But the breaking point for Chalekian — who announced his sale on Twitter — was the Feb. 28 news that Tesla planned to close its stores and move to online-only sales. The company later backtracked on its decision and instead raised prices on all its vehicles except the Model 3.
For Chalekian, the stores are key to Tesla’s sales. They’re a place where customers can see and touch the cars they will potentially spend tens of thousands of dollars on. When he ordered his Model S in 2009, he had the opportunity to test drive a Roadster, but still understood the risk of buying a car sight unseen.
He chose a Tesla over the Fisker Karma, a former competitor, because he thought he might as well go 100% electric instead of buying a hybrid vehicle. When Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy in 2013, Chalekian felt he had made the right decision.
“Since I own the car myself, the last thing I want is Tesla to go out of business,” he told Business Insider.
He continued: “But the servicing on these cars has been horrible. I’ve had more problems with my car than any other car combined.”
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As an investor, Chalekian took issue not just with the vehicles but with Musk’s leadership. He said it’s unfair to shareholders for Musk to run Tesla, The Boring Company, and SpaceX all at the same time.
“Having him involved maybe on the board, where he can still give his insight and talk about his vision, would be helpful,” Chalekian said. “But I don’t know if he should, at this point, be the person running the company.”
Chalekian said he might turn bullish if there’s a clearer sense of direction at the helm of Tesla, and if the stock price falls — he said he would “not be surprised” if it falls by $100.
Until then, Lake Avenue Financial is “investing heavily” in other areas of the market apart from Tesla. Here’s what Chalekian is betting on:
“Fintech is one of those areas. We like some of the different areas like processing … Square, PayPal.
“We also like semiconductor stocks like Nvidia.
“One of my best investments and ideas has been in the security space. BlackBerry has been a great place for the internet of things.
“Recently you’ve seen all this information that’s been stolen. If you don’t have a safe infrastructure underneath that to make sure that these connections are secure, then you’re going to see more and more of these types of hacks.
“Their current CEO John Chen, he turned around two companies previous to BlackBerry: Pyramid Technology and more notably, Sybase. And I think BlackBerry will be his greatest turnaround story.”
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