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Tesla Motors to issue more stock, pay off Energy department

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Noah Berger/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A Tesla Model S electric sedan is driven near the company's factory in Fremont, Calif. The Tesla Motors Model S received a rave review from notably cautious Consumer Reports recently.

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Since Tesla issued its first-quarter financials last week, its stock has been on a tear.

Not only did the company have its first profitable quarter ever, but the many investors who had shorted the stock of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] are now faced with the threat of expensive margin calls.

So Tesla is taking advantage of the price runup; it announced Wednesday afternoon that it would issue up to 2.7 million to 3.1 million more shares of its common stock.

At today's closing price of $84.84 per share, that would net the company $229 million to $263 million. It will also offer $450 million in convertible debt. 

CEO Elon Musk simultaneously said he would also buy $100 million of shares with his own funds--$45 million from the new offering--giving it total expected proceeds of about $830 million.

But that's even not the big news.

The remarkable part of the company's release this afternoon is that Tesla plans to the proceeds of the offering to prepay the remainder of its $465 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, both principal and interest.

That loan was granted in July 2009 as part of the DoE's advanced-technology vehicle manufacturing program, along with much larger loans to Ford ($5.9 billion) and Nisan ($1.6 billion, of which it drew down $1.4 billion).

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Last fall, Tesla was deemed a "loser" company by name by unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who criticized a slew of companies to which the DoE loaned or granted money--a few of which have failed, most notably Solyndra.

Paying off its DoE loan entirely removes one stick used by Tesla critics to beat the company: that it is subsidized by your tax dollars and would not otherwise be viable.

Consider articles like this one, for example: Sorry, Tesla's Only Profitable Because Of Your Tax Dollars.

While Tesla Model S electric cars will still be eligible for the same Federal income-tax credit and other incentives as any plug-in car, paying off the loans means the Feds will no longer be in the business of providing operating funds for the company.

Startup Fisker Automotive was also granted $529 million in loans by the DoE, but the department cut off access after the company drew down $192 million.

While Fisker has not filed for bankruptcy, it has not built any of its Karma range-extended electric luxury sedans since last July, and laid off most of its employees last month.

Tesla's Model S electric sport sedan, meanwhile, received a rave review from notably cautiousConsumer Reports two weeks ago.

 

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