Tesla is no stranger to entities that are actively betting against it. Being one of the most shorted companies for years means that it is used to attacks from several fronts. But recently, Tesla ended up on the receiving end of what could very well be the strangest efforts against it to date.
Just recently, Frankfurter Allgemeine, one of Germany’s esteemed veteran news agencies, urged its readers to bet against Tesla and Elon Musk. The publication did not provide many details or computations to justify its thesis, though it did argue that Tesla’s valuation is far too large for an automaker that profits so little from selling cars.
— Marcel Münch 马赛 (@_mm85) May 3, 2021
Using this logic, the FAZ noted that Daimler, which posted a profit that’s 10x as high as Tesla, should be valued at 2,200 billion euros (or about $2.65T) conservatively. This, is, of course, a gross generalization of Tesla’s business that discounts several critical parts of the company, such as its energy business and its software. However, the newspaper did note that there is a good way to address Tesla’s over-valuation.
This is where things become interesting. The report then proceeded to urge readers to help short Tesla stock. The newspaper shared its stance in the following section. “That shouldn’t hold us back now, on the contrary, only by joining forces can it finally succeed in bringing the magician of the markets, who Elon Musk undoubtedly still is, to his knees,” the FAZ said.
Overall, the German news agency’s advice is quite strange considering that shorting Tesla is arguably one of the riskiest strategies in the market today. Tesla may have remained heavily shorted for years, but it is also known for burning those who short it to a significant degree. In 2020 alone, Tesla short-sellers lost $40 billion as the company’s shares surged.
Those who bet against Tesla on the advice of the FAZ should then be prepared for the risks of such a decision. Tesla is a volatile stock, after all, and when it breaks out, it tends to reach impressive highs. This was evident in November 2020, when Tesla shorts lost $8.5 billion in that one month alone. Tesla is also deep into projects that may be positive drivers for its stock as well, such as the rollout of its Full Self-Driving Beta software, as well as the release of vehicles like the Semi and the Cybertruck.
Ironically, Elon Musk actually has a soft spot for retail shareholders. During his brief take-private attempt back in 2018, which saw him trying to sell the company to Apple, Musk’s decision to keep the EV maker private was reportedly influenced in part by the adverse effects of the privatization to retail shareholders. One can only hope that those who take the FAZ‘s advice are willing to take the ride, despite the chances that it may prove to be a painful one.
Disclaimer: I am long TSLA.
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