Investor's Corner

Tesla overtakes GM as US’ most valuable carmaker as TSLA shorts feel $1.4B burn

(Photo: Andres GE)

Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) ended Thursday’s trading on a strong note, rising over 17% and ending just shy of the $300 mark at $299.68. With this recent movement, Tesla has taken its place as America’s most valuable carmaker while giving its short-sellers a $1.4 billion burn in the process. 

By ending the day with a market cap of $53 billion, Tesla has managed to surpass the United States’ largest automaker, General Motors, which has a market cap of $51 billion. This is not the first time that Tesla has taken the title of the US’ most valuable carmaker, though its steep dive this year resulted in GM holding a substantial lead over the younger automaker. 

Following the release of its Q3 2019 earnings, which saw the company return to GAAP profitability with an earnings per share of $1.91, TSLA stock began a rally that has not been seen in years, rising around 20% before the end of Wednesday’s after-hours trading. On Thursday’s intraday, Tesla stock held above the $290 range, ultimately ending just a hair short of $300 per share.

Considering that short sellers have a $10.5 billion bet against the electric car maker, the 17% rise on Thursday resulted in a $1.4 billion burn to the company’s shorts. This erased 70% of the profits TSLA shorts had logged in 2019, according to data from S3 Partners, a financial analytics firm that monitors short-selling activities. This was despite Tesla shares remaining about 10% down year-to-date. 

It should be noted that Tesla’s $1.8 billion junk bond due in August 2025 also surged 3 points in price following the results. This drove its yield to the lowest since March 2018. Analysts at brokerage Credit Suisse expressed their optimism for Tesla stock. “A strong step forward, yet Tesla will need to put together a string of similar data points to demonstrate the sustainability of results … and its track record has been spotty on this,” the analysts noted. 

Garrett Nelson, a senior equity research analyst at CFRA, noted during an appearance at Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade that the Street has reacted positively to TSLA’s rise. “Tesla very much pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this quarter. The rating change mainly reflects the belief that the pros and cons of this story — and it is a story stock — that they’re more in balance than they have been in several months, so we think a hold rating is now appropriate,” he said. 

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading -0.83% at $297.18 per share on Thursday’s pre-market. 

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.  

Tesla overtakes GM as US’ most valuable carmaker as TSLA shorts feel $1.4B burn
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