Elon Musk vs the Shorts: Tesla Is a House of Pain for the Bears (For Now)
Elon Musk’s response to short sellers for his electric car company Tesla Motors (TSLA): bad idea.
The entrepreneur sent that message out to Twitter followers Tuesday, after a user asked him what he would say to investors shorting his stock. The conversation came just days after the highly-anticipated Tesla Model 3 unveiling—an electric car that’s reportedly more affordable than Tesla’s past models. The social media buzz surrounding the car has not abated since the event, and Tesla shares have continued their upward rally, popping 15% since March 31. The stock is currently trading at $264.13.
Yet Tesla short sellers are at a record high—about 25% of Tesla shares are being shorted as of March 15 (which is admittedly, somewhat out of date), according to Markit. For further context, roughly 48% of analysts have tacked a buy rating onto the stock, while 26% recommended hold. Another 26% said sell, according to Bloomberg.
Interestingly, Musk has been surprisingly correct when it comes to predicting his company’s stock, coincidentally or not. Back in 2012, Musk warned shorts that a “tsunami of hurt”—and he wasn’t wrong. A year later, the stock rose 461%. In 2013, when Musk gave a slightly more moderated view of Tesla, telling Fox News, “I mean it’s not as crazy (to short Tesla now), but I still think it’s probably not a good idea,” the stock opened 1.3% lower the next day.
But at least some of the bears are convinced the stock is still too expensive—Model 3 or not.
In a Barclay’s research note Wednesday, analysts led by Brian Johnson reiterated their underweight rating, and a price target of $165 for the stock.
“We would like investors to take a deep breath and realize that: 1) Model 3 is not likely to be delivered in significant volume until 2019, 2) ASP will be more like $50k not $35k, and federal tax credits are eventually slated to expire, perhaps hurting reservation yield, and 3) as the gigafactory won’t be at scale, battery costs may not be low enough for the 20% gross margin target on the Model 3,” wrote Barclays analysts.
Meanwhile, S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Efraim Levy upped the stock’s price target to $185 from $155 on April 1, noting that “his milestone raises our confidence in the success and timeliness of the vehicle, but our view remains that too much good news is reflected in the stock.” He reiterated a sell rating on Tesla.
Tesla missed it’s delivery guidance for the first quarter. On Monday, the company reported that it had delivered 14,820 cars, though it had expected to deliver 16,000. That however did not change the company’s full-year guidance.