Tesla slides on first day of trading on S&P 500 Index

December 21, 2020, 6:20 PM UTC

Tesla was among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 in its first day of trading on the benchmark.

The electric-vehicle maker, which now represents 1.6% of the index and is among its heaviest-weighted stocks, fell as much as 6.3% as it retraced gains from Friday when tens of millions of shares were purchased by index-fund managers. The S&P 500 fell as much as 2% amid fears of a new coronavirus strain in the U.K.

“Hedge funds will treat this as a negative catalyst for Tesla given buying pressure eases off very quickly,” Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin said in an interview.

Institutional buying of Tesla surged late Friday as index-tracking managers rushed to add the shares to their funds. Almost $60 billion worth of stock changed hands at $695 a share, most of it in one giant trade in the session’s waning seconds. The price was about 5% higher than Tesla’s level just prior to the close. More than $150 billion worth of Tesla shares traded on Friday, ahead of the index inclusion.

Other electric-vehicle companies, whose shares have gained significantly over the past month after Tesla’s S&P 500 inclusion was announced, were also weak on Monday. Some of the biggest declines came from Nikola Corp., Electrameccanica Vehicles Corp. and Workhorse Group Inc.

Tesla soared 731% this year through Friday in anticipation of the historic inclusion, making it the biggest company ever to be added to the benchmark. The EV pioneer also joined the S&P 100, replacing oil and gas firm Occidental Petroleum Corp.

“There is strong precedence for positive returns for stocks prior to S&P 500 inclusion and post announcement, but very limited precedent for near term outperformance post inclusion,” Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote in a note earlier this month.

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