CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said top Tesla executives exercised $55.6 million worth of Tesla stock a day before the company issued positive guidance news regarding its fourth-quarter earnings. In fact, the executives were granted new options to buy shares at Monday’s closing price of $139.34 pending future achievement of performance objectives. In addition, Gregory Reichow was granted options to buy shares, and was not actually granted shares. Also, Tesla's forecast of a flat operating profit in the fourth quarter should have been attributed to the Wall Street Journal.


Four of Tesla Motors' top executives were granted options to buy 385,000 shares of their company’s stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) on Monday at the day's closing price of $139.34, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings released late Wednesday.

“Certain executives were granted new options as part of the company’s annual compensation review of its employees, which had been ongoing for some time,” Tesla director of global communications Liz Jarvis-Shean said by email on Thursday. “These grants were made in the ordinary course of Tesla’s business, under which new options are granted on the second Monday of each month.”

A day after the issuance of new stock options, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based automaker announced record sales of its Model S luxury electric sedan in the fourth quarter of 2003 of nearly 6,900 units, exceeding prior guidance by 20 percent. The good news helped send Tesla’s stock price to $171.28 as of closing price Thursday, which added $12 million to the value of the stock options since Monday. Tesla will report its fourth-quarter 2013 earnings next month.

Stock options are intended to retain top talent at companies and to align their interests with those of their shareholders. The executives will not be able to exercise the right to buy these shares until a later performance evaluation of the company. The stock is down nearly 7 percent over the past three months, but it’s up almost 23 percent since Monday.

Here’s the breakdown options granted on Monday:

Chief Technical Officer Jeffrey Straubel was granted the option to buy 220,000 shares that were worth $30.65 million on Monday and $37.6 million after markets closed in New York on Thursday.

Vice President of Manufacturing Gregory Reichow was granted the option to buy 65,000 shares worth $9.06 million on Monday. Those shares are worth $11.11 million at market close on Thursday. 

Vice President for Service and Sales Operations Jerome Guillen was granted the option to buy 55,000 shares worth $7.66 million on Monday. Those assets were worth $9.4 million after markets closed on Thursday.

Chief Financial Officer Ahuja Deepak was granted the option to buy 45,000 shares of TSLA that were worth $6.27 million on Monday. As of Thursday afternoon those shares were worth $7.69 million.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla says its operating profit for the fourth quarter will be about the same as in the third quarter. The company is investing heavily in expanding its global sales and marketing infrastructure, its network of quick-charging stations, known as Superchargers, in the U.S. and Europe, and works to expand capacity at its Fremont, Calif., factory.