Apple Shouldn't Buy Tesla, but (Blank) Should!

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- All this talk swirling around regarding Apple (AAPL) buying Tesla Motors (TSLA) is simply absurd. 

Get real, people! Just because Tesla's CEO Elon Musk met with a banker from Apple some time in the last twelve months means nothing. I met Jim Cramer, but it doesn't mean we're opening a hedge fund together. 

Get my point?

And besides, has anyone even taken fifteen seconds to analyze Apple's past acquisitions? It consists of $50 million here and $100 million there for a few relatively unknown tech startups. You think it's just going to hunt down Tesla -- perhaps one of the most hyped companies in the past year -- and shell out $40 billion or more? 

Good grief!

But...there is one company that can both afford to acquire Tesla and have it make sense: Google (GOOG). 

Back in November, I wrote "Google Should Buy Tesla". The high-tech automaker was in what turned out to be a temporary down trend. But just as everyone thought the story was over, the stock raced back to new highs after the earnings report on Wednesday, Feb. 19. 

Maybe you've heard, or maybe you haven't, but autonomous driving -- driverless driving -- is inching ever closer to becoming a reality. What seemed like a futuristic dream is suddenly becoming a realistic journey in the not-so-distant future. Notably, one of the leaders in the autonomous driving world is Google. 

However, consider the competition in autonomous driving: General Motors (GM), Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW, just to name a few. 

Can you spot the missing piece? 

These are all automobile manufacturers. Sure, Google could license its technology for a fully or mostly autonomous vehicle. That's certainly one way to go. 

But what if Google cut out the automakers and went directly to the consumer?

Taking it one step further, what if it did that with one of the most highly in-demand vehicles in the country? One that is considered so valuable and scarce, that a used one actually costs more than a new one?

Tesla is ramping up production to an expected 35,000 vehicles in 2014, increasing from about 600 vehicles per week currently to 1,000 cars per week by the end of the year. Gross margins increased to 25.2% in the most recent quarter and are forecasted to climbed up to 28% by year's end. 

Telsa's valuation is easy to nitpick by any traditional standard, but comparing it to other automakers is simply foolish. It's not GM, no matter how many times the bears compare the valuations. Sure, it builds cars. But make no mistake: it's a technology company. And a luxury technology car company at that. 

It's perfect for Google, if Mountain View is looking to go the non-licensing route by producing its own cars. I just think that Google has nothing proprietary about its self-driving cars. Mercedes-Benz is doing it. BMW, Audi, GM. You name it, and there's an automaker working on it. What makes Google that much different or that much better? 

Of course, buying Tesla is becoming much more expensive now, with the market cap pushing $26 billion. And of course, someone looking to buy Tesla would have to pay a premium on top of that, not like there isn't a ton of premium already built into the share price. 

If Google, which has $58.7 billion in cash and short-term investments, were to acquire Tesla, it would get a hell of a brand with a hell of a product. 

I know it sounds crazy. And this would truly be a huge takeout story. Probably the biggest of the year if it happened. There's no doubt that Tesla is way overvalued.

But autonomous driving will absolutely be the future. Without a doubt. The public perception -- which, if you've done any research on autonomous driving, you will know that that's a bigger hurdle than the actual technology -- will come around, and likely much faster than most think. 

Eventually every new car will have autonomous driving. It will be the new normal and people will love it. Just like they'll love charging their electric car, refueling at charging stations, and never putting a drop of gasoline in their car again. 

Go ahead, tell me that we'll take a hit from higher energy consumption from increased charging. The way Elon Musk rolls, in 25 years, we'll have Teslas in the garage and SolarCity (SCTY) panels on the roof. 

Google buying Tesla and rolling out the most luxurious, fully-electric, fully-autonomous vehicle would transform the tech giant into one of the future's biggest players. 

Everyone scoffed when Facebook (FB) bought Instagram for $1 billion. Now, we look at it as a steal, (especially after Facebook just bought WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion). 

Google should make Tesla tomorrow's bargain bin pick up, the way Facebook did with Instagram. Even if it doesn't feel like a bargain bin buy today.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and FB, but held no positions in any of the other stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.

Bret Kenwell currently writes, blogs and also contributes to Robert Weinstein's Weekly Options Newsletter. Focuses on short-to-intermediate-term trading opportunities that can be exposed via options. He prefers to use debit trades on momentum setups and credit trades on support/resistance setups. He also focuses on building long-term wealth by searching for consistent, quality dividend paying companies and long-term growth companies. He considers himself the surfer, not the wave, in relation to the market and himself. He has no allegiance to either the bull side or the bear side.

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