Tesla could get bought by a tech giant like Apple, fund manager says

Key Points
  • Latitude Investment Management's Freddie Lait says Tesla's market value warrants a takeover bid.
  • A tech company like Apple is the strongest candidate to pitch a bid for the electric car maker, he argues.
  • Apple has been working on an electric car project of its own called "Titan."
Tesla will likely get bought by a tech company, analyst says

Tesla is fairly valued to get bought out, and a tech giant like Apple is the strongest candidate to pitch a takeover bid, according to one fund manager.

Freddie Lait, chief investment officer at Latitude Investment Management, said Wednesday that Tesla's $52.5 billion market value warranted an acquisition.

"It's quite possibly going to get bought out for that valuation because it represents what that is," Lait told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

"It's already got it's own operating system, it's got its own technology, it's got a great brand," he noted, adding that Tesla's technology could "potentially" be integrated into another player's product.

Referring to last year's take-private episode, the analyst said that he doubted an investor like Saudi Arabia's sovereign investment fund would the best buyer for Tesla.

"I don't see the industrial logic for that," he said.

Billionaire Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla, left, speaks as Jeffrey Straubel, chief technical officer and co-founder of Tesla, listens.
Troy Harvey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Last year, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that he intended to take the company private at $420 per share, and said he had "funding secured." He later said he had been he had been approached by the Saudi Public Investment Fund "multiple times" about a potential deal. The move took shares of the company on a rollercoaster ride, as just a month later the entrepreneur reversed his decision, saying the electric car maker would remain publicly traded.

The company is known to be the target of a number of short sellers, who make bets against the firm's stock on doubts that it can produce a long-term profitable business.

"From a fundamental perspective, Tesla is definitely not a buy," Lait said, adding, "but that sadly isn't the definition of a good short."

He is not the only analyst to have suggested that Apple may buy or at least invest in the company. Some on Wall Street have said Tesla could be an acquisition target for Apple as it could be a good fit with the latter's automotive ambitions. Apple has been working on an electric car project of its own called "Titan" — it recently laid off more than 200 employees from the operation.

And Tesla isn't the only company investors have been speculating that Apple could buy. J.P. Morgan's Samik Chaterjee and Wedbush Securities' Dan Ives, have both said the firm should acquire streaming giant Neflix to aid its video content ambitions. The firm is reportedly eyeing April as the month in which it launches an upcoming TV streaming service.

Apple has an eye-watering $245 billion cash pile, which has boosted theories the company could be thinking about a strategic merger or acquisition deal.