Tesla investor: There couldn't be a better time for Apple to buy a stake in Tesla

Key Points
  • Tesla investor Ross Gerber said the carmaker's problems are mostly operational, which is Apple CEO Tim Cook's area of expertise.
  • And what Tesla lacks in scaling and operations, it makes up for in innovation — which Gerber says is what Apple desperately needs long-term.
Bull and bear debate the trade in Apple
Bull and bear debate the trade in Apple

Apple should buy a stake in Tesla now for the sake of both companies, Tesla investor Ross Gerber told CNBC on Monday.

"This is [Apple CEO] Tim Cook's gift of all gifts," Gerber said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

Gerber, co-founder & CEO of Gerber Kawasaki, said a potential investment from Apple in Tesla could be hugely beneficial to both companies.

Tesla has faced extensive scrutiny in the past year for a wide array of issues, including a push to meet Model 3 production goals. CEO Elon Musk, who on Friday admitted the past year has been "excruciating" and "the most difficult and painful" of his career, has come under fire for erratic behavior. Most recently, Musk rattled markets after tweeting he was planning to take Tesla private when the stock reached $420 per share and that he had "funding secured." The tweet has invited scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"If you look at actually what Elon's problems are every day, they are operational, which is why Tim Cook was hired by Steve Jobs back in the day. Cook is perfect for this role," Gerber said. "In the past Apple and Tesla probably wouldn't have gotten along because Musk didn't need Apple, but it is clear he needs help [now]."

And what Tesla lacks in scaling and operations, it makes up for in innovation — which Gerber says is what Apple desperately needs long-term.

With a giant cash hoard and deep-running consumer loyalty, Apple became the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a valuation of $1 trillion in early August. It has since continued its trajectory, hitting a fresh all-time high in intraday trading on Monday. Despite Apple's recent success, however, it has its own share of pressures. Some investors worry stagnating iPhone sales could spell trouble for the company in the future.

"My biggest fear with Apple is that they have fallen so far behind in the innovation curve, I don't see where they will be five years from now," Gerber said. "I don't think phones are going to be the primary device in a decade," he added.

Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer at Tigress Financial Partners, agreed Tesla could present a decent investment opportunity for Apple but said the investment wouldn't make or break the tech giant.

"I don't think Apple is on the decline. It is still on the ascent," Feinseth said.

He said wearables and Apple's voice assistant, Siri, still present big areas for growth and innovation.

But an investment in Tesla could present a unique opportunity for Apple to "get a foothold in the development" of Tesla technology, which it usually keeps in-house.

"Apple does have enough cash, with the $240 billion they now have. With that they could buy Tesla, Ford, Fiat, Ferrari, Harley Davidson — they could buy everything," Feinseth said.

"Why would they want to tie themselves down with owning an automobile manufacturer? If they want to be involved with the manufacturing, especially the integration of technology, taking a financial interest in Tesla would make sense," he added.

Gerber agreed mobility could be a huge opportunity for Apple in the future. And he said the iPhone maker's secretive self-driving car project, "Project Titan," is "going nowhere," so Tesla would be a surer bet. If Apple were to strike a deal with Tesla that put its operating system and app store in Tesla cars, that would open up a whole new avenue for Apple to market its services and applications to customers, he said.

"Apple should buy 5, 10 percent of Tesla just to get the iOS onto that Tesla screen. Part of the Tesla story is that screen in the middle of the car, and not having Apple on that screen is going to be a huge problem for them," he said.

Whether or not Tesla ends up private, Apple should act now, while Musk is actively searching for partners, Gerber said.

Shares of Tesla closed up 0.96 percent at $308.44. Shares of Apple closed down 0.97 percent at $215.46, after briefly touching an all-time high of $219.18 in intraday trading on Monday.

Apple and Tesla did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment.