Investor's Corner

Tesla short and borderline troll celebrated for Model 3 parking lot surveillance work

It is not difficult to see that Tesla is an extremely polarizing company. Headed by a polarizing figure such as Elon Musk, it is no surprise to see the electric car maker attracting a devoted group of supporters and an equally dedicated group of critics. Among Tesla’s staunchest critics are short-sellers betting against the company, some of whom maintain an active presence on Twitter.

One of Tesla’s most prominent short-sellers on Twitter is Mark Spiegel of Stanphyl Capital, who has a heavy bet against the electric car maker. Spiegel has become a mainstay in anti-Tesla discussions, frequently posting incendiary tweets on his account and appearing on television to air his thesis about the company. One of Spiegel’s recent tweets, a screenshot of which could be found below, involves him proudly blocking a Supercharger station with his Porsche Boxster S — an act intended to inconvenience owners and incite reactions from Tesla supporters.

Tesla short-seller Mark Spiegel blocking a Supercharger station. [Credit: Mark Spiegel/Twitter]

Just yesterday, Reuters published a report about the work being done by a number of Tesla bears. Unlike Spiegel, the subjects of the article were small-time investors who are personally betting against the company. Among these were Brodie Ferguson, a 25-year-old Canadian with a short position on TSLA, and small business owner Paul Shust, who also maintains a critical stance against the company.

Surprisingly, the Reuters report also included the work of an anonymous but self-proclaimed Tesla short, called @Latriffe, who has taken it upon himself to track the activity in Tesla’s overflow lot at the Burbank Airport. After the Q2 2018 earnings call, Latriffe announced on his Twitter account that he would be putting the Burbank Airport lot under 24/7 surveillance since he hypothesized that the mass number of vehicles being taken to the location was proof that demand for the Model 3 was declining, or that cars being produced were defective. This argument was contradicted by Tesla in the second quarter earnings call, when Tesla worldwide head of sales Robin Ren stated that demand for the electric sedan remains high.

Reuters writers Michelle Price and Sarah Lynch, who penned the article, celebrated the efforts of the Tesla short-sellers on Twitter, dubbing the piece as a “story on the fascinating world of amateur sleuthing and research on Tesla that some would say puts most Wall Street analysts to shame.” The reaction from Tesla’s supporters on the social media platform was immediate, with many calling out the writers for including the still-anonymous Latriffe as a valid source in the article. As it turns out, the TSLA bear’s interactions with Tesla’s supporters online were questionable at best.

Tesla bull @tslalytix has compiled a number of the short-seller’s messages sent to the company’s supporters, and they are quite disturbing. Included in his posts are homophobic slurs, misogynistic messages, and sexual innuendos addressed to Tesla supporters and Elon Musk (to name a few). Tslalytix’s compilation of the short-seller’s screenshots could be accessed here, but be warned as a number of the posts include strong language. Amidst the complaints from Tesla supporters, Michelle Price clarified in a later tweet that they followed due procedure when they cleared the Tesla short as a source for the article.

As Tesla approaches the final month of the third quarter, the heat surrounding the company is only bound to increase. Tesla is currently attempting to hit profitability, while hitting new production records for the Model 3. The company’s production rate during the first two months of Q3 is somewhat encouraging, particularly since Elon Musk confirmed in the Q2 earnings call that Tesla was able to hit a pace of 5,000 Model 3/week during “multiple weeks” in July. August’s production figures could be a pleasant surprise as well, as Bloomberg‘s Model 3 production tracker registered a production rate of 6,000 Model 3 per week at one point. VIN registrations are also encouraging, as Tesla passed the 100,000-vehicle mark during the month.

Being the most shorted stock in the market, it is not surprising to see the amount of vitriol directed at Tesla. That said, there are times when TSLA bears miss their mark. Last July, for example, Gordon L. Johnson, an analyst from Vertical Research Group and one of the company’s more vocal critics in Wall Street, made a grave mistake when he published a note to clients based on a fallacious report against Tesla. He later apologized to his firm’s clients about his error.

Tesla short and borderline troll celebrated for Model 3 parking lot surveillance work
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