Tesla stock climbed today following an upgrade from one of the company’s biggest fans and a price target increase from one of its biggest naysayers. But these aren’t the only numbers on Tesla that are on the rise today. According to data shared exclusively with ValueWalk, it looks like short interest in the automaker’s stock touched a new high this week—just before Morgan Stanley upgraded it.
More than 37.5 million shares of Tesla sold short
Matt Unterman, director of the financial analytics firm S3 Partners, pegs short interest in Tesla stock at around 37.5 million shares as of Wednesday. That amounts to $8.9 billion, an all-time high, he tells ValueWalk. Interestingly, S3 picked up an additional 1 million shares of Tesla stock being shorted today after Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas revealed his upgrade.
S3 Partners shared these charts with ValueWalk to illustrate how short interest in Tesla has been rising in tandem with its stock price. Unterman explains that this is pretty typical of how bears operate, by shorting a stock more and more as it climbs higher and higher.
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NHTSA wraps up Autopilot probe
Certainly the next big event for Tesla is its fourth quarter earnings report, which is expected next month, but today investors received another gift. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has wrapped up his investigation of the deadly Autopilot-related crash which happened in Florida last year. Forty-year-old Joshua Brown was killed when his Model S slammed into a tractor-trailer while traveling in excess of 70 miles per hour. The accident triggered widespread concern as critics claim that drivers are expecting too much out of Autopilot.
In its official report released today, the NHTSA said the investigation of the accident is closed and that it did not identify any “safety-related defect trend,” although the closing of the case doesn’t necessarily mean that one doesn’t exist. The report states that the Tesla’s collision avoidance system was mostly designed to recognize the backs of vehicles and thus couldn’t “see” the all-white truck. The report also said the driver appeared to be distracted before the accident.
Shares of Tesla stock rose as high as $248.68 during regular trading hours on Thursday before hitting a ceiling early in the day. This is the highest the automaker’s stock has been since about April 2016.