Investor's Corner

Tesla (TSLA) could be in striking distance of a short squeeze soon: Piper Jaffray

Back in the second quarter, Elon Musk predicted that the “short burn of the century” was coming soon. During that time, Tesla was racing to hit a Model 3 production rate of 5,000 units per week. The electric car maker did reach its Q2 production goals for the Model 3 then, though Elon Musk’s prediction did not come to pass.

If a recent statement from Wall Street is any indication, Tesla might actually be closing in on what could be a very notable and very realistic short squeeze.

In an appearance at CNBC’s Trading Nation, Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray, stated that Tesla’s outperformance has made life quite difficult for the company’s short-sellers. This has been particularly notable recently, as Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) soared higher even as the market mostly spiraled down. In the past three months alone, TSLA has gone up 37%, while the Nasdaq plunged 8%.

Such strength, according to Johnson, has been making short-sellers quite nervous. During his recent CNBC appearance, the Piper Jaffray chief market technician stated that Tesla’s short interest ratio has been falling since around April, when it peaked at 31% of the company’s float. Johnson noted that if Tesla breaks through a key level of resistance, the company could realistically be within striking distance of a massive short covering.

“If we get a close above this $390 level, it’s going to suggest a topside breakout with a measured price objective based on the charts perhaps about $525 to $550. The shorts are going to be covering quickly and providing even a further squeeze higher from here,” the chief market technician said.

For such a squeeze to happen, though, Tesla would have to break the high of $389.61 it achieved in September 2017. A move to $525 represents a 46% upside from TSLA stock’s current price of around $360 per share as well.

Tesla is positioned pretty well this fourth quarter to deliver a big blow to short-sellers. The company’s fundamentals, after all, have been showing signs of strength since the end of the third quarter, when Tesla surprised Wall Street by posting $6.8 billion in revenue. This fourth quarter, Tesla seems poised to produce and deliver another record number of electric cars, thanks to the introduction of the Mid Range Model 3 last October. The phase-out period of the $7,500 federal tax credit in the United States is also expected to push the company’s numbers for Q4 even further.

Tesla’s Fremont factory and Gigafactory 1 in Nevada seem to be operating optimally as well. Elon Musk has noted that Tesla is now at a point where producing 5,000 Model 3 per week is no big deal, and the pieces are being put in place for a ramp towards even higher production numbers. The Model 3’s most disruptive variant, the $35,000 Standard Range RWD version, is getting closer to production. Overseas, progress for the construction of Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai is also moving at an extremely rapid pace.

Tesla had the cards stacked against it for the most part of the year, but the company has powered through. With possibly even better fundamentals this fourth quarter, Elon Musk’s predicted “short burn of the century” might finally be coming — and just as it is with many things Tesla, it could just be happening in Elon Time.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading +0.77% at $360.73.

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

Tesla (TSLA) could be in striking distance of a short squeeze soon: Piper Jaffray
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