Investor's Corner

Tesla becomes 4th-largest US short amid countdown for Q3’s earnings

Earlier this year, Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) held the title of being the most-shorted company in the US stock market. But at the end of August, Tesla became second to Amazon as the US’ most-shorted stock, before being overtaken by Apple in early September. On Tuesday, Tesla’s place in the list fell again, putting the carmaker directly behind e-commerce behemoth Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and chipmaker Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). With this, Tesla has now become the 4th-largest short in the US market. 

The recent updates on Tesla’s short interest were posted yesterday by S3 Partners LLC Managing Director of Predictive Analytics Ihor Dusaniwsky. The S3 Partners exec noted that Tesla’s short interest is currently at $8.16 billion with 32.58 million shares shorted, corresponding to 25.55% of the company’s float. Dusaniwsky stated that over the past week, 1.2 million shares were covered amidst the steep 17% drop in TSLA stock. Tesla shorts are also up $416 million in mark-to-market profits.

Tesla stock saw a sharp decline last week when Elon Musk courted renewed controversy by posting a series of tweets critical of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk tweeted against the SEC on Thursday, at a time when Tesla stock was already down 4.4%. After Musk posted his criticism of the agency on Twitter, Tesla shares dipped 2% more. The following trading days were equally cruel to TSLA, with the stock ending Monday at a nearly 18-month low. The electric car maker showed some recovery on Tuesday, though, with shares rising 4.89% amidst a positive note from Macquarie Capital Inc, which gave Tesla an Outperform rating and a price target of $430 per share.

Despite its lower rankings in the list of most-shorted companies in the US market, Tesla remains a heavily-shorted stock. That said, the number of TSLA shares held short today is considerably lower than May’s figures, when Tesla had 39 million shares were held short – the highest in the company’s history. TSLA short interest has mostly decreased since then, recently falling to just 32.58 million shares as of Tuesday.

The apparent decline in Tesla’s short interest comes as the countdown for the release of Tesla’s Q3 2018 earnings report continues. Tesla had ambitious targets in the third quarter, as the company aimed to produce and deliver more than 50,000 Model 3 from July to September – a goal that was achieved. That said, while Tesla was able to set new delivery and production records in Q3, it remains to be seen if the company was able to turn a profit – target set by Elon Musk earlier this year.

A critical factor that can contribute to Tesla’s earnings in Q3 would lie in the Model 3, the company’s first attempt at a mass-market car. That said, if the company’s Q3 production and delivery figures are any indication, it appears that Q3 was the quarter when the Model 3 ramp started hitting its stride. Less than 48 hours before Q3 ended, Elon Musk even sent an email to Tesla employees, encouraging them to push harder since the company was “very close to profitability.”

“We are very close to achieving profitability and proving the naysayers wrong, but, to be certain, we must execute really well tomorrow (Sunday). If we go all out tomorrow, we will achieve an epic victory beyond all expectations,” Musk wrote.

This November, the market would see if Tesla achieved the “epic victory” that Elon Musk teased in his email. Despite the controversy stirred by Musk on Twitter, after all, Tesla’s fundamentals appear to be steadily improving.

Tesla becomes 4th-largest US short amid countdown for Q3’s earnings
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