Baron Capital chairman and CEO Ron Baron went on CNBC today to talk up two of his fund’s underperforming positions, Tesla Motors and Manchester United, and while he can put together a decent narrative for both companies his expectations are incredibly bullish. Baron said that he expects to get two to three times his money back on Manchester United and ten times his money back on Tesla, both of which he initiated positions on in the last two years.
Manchester United ‘the most popular television program in the world’
While the connection isn’t immediately obvious, Baron didn’t pick those two names at random. Baron Capital has 450 investments (with $28.6 billion AUM), and the top ten make up just 18% of the entire portfolio. Of the 38 investments worth $200 million or more, Baron said that 36 have had very strong returns and only Tesla and MANU weren’t doing as well (he never actually says that the two investments are down, but gestures that they aren’t doing well).
MANU has mostly stayed between $15 and $19 for the last few years, with a lot of swings along the way, so how much Baron Capital has made (or lost) depends on specifically when they initiated their position, but since it’s at the lower end of that range right now it can’t have been a winner.
“It’s a television program. It’s the most popular television program in the world,” said Baron, explaining why he thinks MANU is a great investment. “There’s opportunities to exploit all these people who are interested in this.”
He should probably find a new way to phrase that, but his point is that the Dodgers sold for $2 billion a couple of years ago, and they have a six or seven million fans, but MANU currently has a market cap of $2.6 billion with something like 600 million fans (Baron’s estimates for fans in both cases). He says that the company is just now learning how to make the most of its media position and that it has a lot of room to grow.
Baron expects Tesla stock to explode in the next decade
Tesla is up six-fold in that same period, but if Baron had gotten in back in early 2013 when the stock was trading in the $30s (currently trading at $202) he wouldn’t be nearly so glum about its performance. More likely he gotten after everyone realized that it was a serious contender and the stock was north of $200, if not $250.
In order for Baron make ten times his money in ten years like he expects it would have to reach $250 billion market cap, that’s roughly five times larger than General Motors is today. We won’t try to predict what Tesla will be worth so far down the road, but that’s an incredibly bullish proposition.