For Tesla CEO Elon Musk short-sellers have always been public enemy number one and this month will be no different.
These investors, who bet that shares will fall, have had a lucrative May as the electric car maker contends with sagging demand for its flagship vehicles and concerns about rampant spending.
Investors holding short positions have earned more than $1 billion in mark-to-market profits in May, according to data compiled by S3 Analytics. That total ranks as one of the most profitable months for short-sellers since 2016.
Short-sellers have gained roughly $3.88 billion in on-paper profits in 2019, after the automaker posted losses in each of the last three fiscal years. Tesla is the second-most shorted U.S. stock, trailing only Apple.
“Tesla’s stock price will have to get back over $300/share for shorts to be deeply in the red again and the threat of a short squeeze to be valid,” wrote Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3 Partners’ managing director of predictive analytics. “Winter almost came for Tesla short-sellers, but now it looks more like spring is in full bloom.”
Tesla shares have fallen about 15 percent in May and roughly 40 percent since the start of 2019. The electric car maker reported in April that it delivered 63,000 vehicles in the first quarter, far below expectations of 76,000 deliveries. The company posted a $702 million loss for the quarter.
Elon Musk’s firm is also contending with safety concerns related to its “Autopilot” technology. The National Transportation Safety Board said last week that the system was engaged during a fatal crash involving one of Tesla’s flagship Model 3 sedans in March.
Wall Street firms have hammered Tesla in recent days. Morgan Stanley said Tuesday that its shares could fall to as low as $10 in its worst-case scenario, citing concerns that “Tesla has grown too big relative to near-term demand.”