Tesla sold nearly $1B in bitcoin last quarter, filings reveal

The sale happened before the market's precipitous drop.
Grant Currin

Tesla's Q2 earnings report contained a surprise that rattled cryptocurrency markets on Wednesday. The carmaker says it earned $936 million from sales of "digital assets," leading analysts to conclude the company sold roughly 75 percent of its total bitcoin holdings. The company says it still owns $218 million worth of cryptocurrency. 

According to calculations from CoinDesk, Tesla sold its holdings when the currency was trading for roughly $29,000 per bitcoin. "Bitcoin ended the second quarter at a price of about $18,700, meaning Tesla avoided a substantial impairment charge on its holdings by selling earlier in the quarter," according to the report.

Bitcoin fell 1.7 percent when the news broke.

Why did a carmaker own so much bitcoin?

This is far from the first time Tesla — or CEO Elon Musk — has moved cryptocurrency markets. Last February, the carmaker reported that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin. The news sent the price of a single bitcoin past $43,000 for the first time.

The next month, Musk sent the price of bitcoin into record territory again with a tweet announcing that Tesla would accept payment in bitcoin.

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When Tesla reversed the policy two months later, the price of bitcoin fell by 20 percent. In a tweet citing environmental concerns, Musk said "Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin and we intend to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy."

According to the documents released Wednesday, the company held its position for more than a year following Musk's tweet. 

Wednesday's findings also reveal that Tesla beat analysts' expectations, bringing in roughly $2.5 billion.

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