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Investor's Corner

Tesla (TSLA) stock under pressure as pandemic slows CA momentum

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) recorded weak vehicle registrations in California in the second quarter of 2020. However, while it is alarming considering California is one of the electric automaker’s most robust markets, there is no reason for TSLA short-sellers to get excited. There was a pandemic that was affecting the Golden State, and it undoubtedly impacted Tesla’s registration numbers.

Marketing research company Cross-Sell released a report that detailed automobile title and research data on Wednesday night and Tesla’s performance in California was sub-par compared to past quarters.

The data suggested that Tesla registered less than 10,000 of its all-electric vehicles in California in Q2, which is less than the same month in 2018 and 2019. But Cross-Sell also said two factors could have affected the registration figures: Tesla’s lag time for reporting vehicle registration figures, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tesla takes a few weeks to register its vehicles, and cars that are sold at the end of a month usually end up becoming apart of the next month’s figures, Cross-Sell said. If a vehicle is sold at the tail end of April, it typically will not be apart of April’s numbers. It is attributed to May instead.

In March, Tesla was on track to beat registration figures for the same month in 2019. But the virus struck, and Tesla was forced to close its Fremont production facility on March 23. The vehicle plant did not reopen until May 10.

Even though Tesla experienced a lengthy closure at Fremont, its performance in the stock market has been anything but indicative of a struggling company. Tesla has been an outlier in recent times, increasing in value on an almost consistent basis. When the pandemic closed Fremont, TSLA shares were trading at $434.29.

At the time of writing, TSLA was valued at $1,480.04 per share.

Although TSLA stock has taken a 4.5% hit today, there is no reason for long-term holders of the company to worry. On the contrary, there is no reason for short-sellers to celebrate, either. After all, TSLA bears have lost an estimated $23 billion in 2020.

Tesla’s newest vehicle, the Model Y, was registered 801 times in June compared to 958 registrations in April. Cross-Sell said that about 1,900 units of the all-electric crossover were recorded in total in Q2. There are no doubts that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the production and registrations of Tesla’s newest car, which is expected to be its biggest seller.

Tesla is preparing for a large-scale production push of the Model Y at its Fremont facility. Documents submitted by Tesla to Fremont’s local government indicate that the company plans to expand production lines at the Northern California manufacturing plant.

Despite the company’s momentum amidst the pandemic, there are still vocal skeptics of the electric automaker’s potential in the future. According to Barron’s, about 15 analysts rate TSLA shares as “Sell,” with only one in four “Buy” ratings. Additionally, roughly 10% of the total stock is short interested, which is around four to five times higher than a typical stock in the Dow.

Although Tesla experienced setbacks in California in Q2, not all is bad. The car company beat out Wall Street estimates for its Q2 delivery figures after it reported 90,650 total cars were given to customers in the second quarter of the year. The stock has also gained over $1,000 in value, making it the most valuable car company in the world.

Tesla will detail its second-quarter performance during its Q2 2020 Earnings Call on July 22.

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

Tesla (TSLA) stock under pressure as pandemic slows CA momentum
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