Tesla CEO Elon Musk has positioned himself for battle with short-sellers like Jim Chanos, and he’s teaching his children a common mindset on Wall Street. According to Musk, short-sellers are “jerks who want us to die,” and so we see the stage set for a battle of Elon Musk versus Jim Chanos… and the rest of those who dare to sell Tesla stock short.
Elon Musk versus Jim Chanos
A new profile of Musk published in Rolling Stone paints a picture of a man who wants his children to understand the finer points of business—and who takes it personally when investors sell Tesla stock short. During the interview, Musk called his children’s attention to a CNBC report that Tesla was the biggest short in the whole stock market with the total wager against the EV maker standing at $9 billion. This quote is where news outlets are getting this whole Elon Musk versus Jim Chanos and the short-sellers fight from:
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“They’re jerks who want us to die,” he told them in front of Rolling Stone’s Neil Strauss. “They’re constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It’s a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It’s really awful. It’s… hurtful.”
This week there’s yet another negative piece of news to add to the pile: a lawsuit filed against Tesla over racism accusations.
Tesla stock slide bandages short-sellers’ wounds
It’s easy to make the leap to a battle of Elon Musk versus Jim Chanos because he has been very outspoken about his short of the EV maker. Additionally, the Kynikos Associates chief told an investing summit with Reuters just this week that he is still adding to its short of Tesla stock. However, he’s certainly not the only one by far.
Not long after Rolling Stone’s profile, financial analytics firm S3 Partners released updated data on short interest in Tesla. Ihor Dusaniwsky said in a note that short-sellers lost $4.1 billion in the first three quarters of the year, with the average short position standing at $9.4 billion. Tesla stock skidded after hitting its high in September, and investors fled due to problems with the Model 3 production.
According to S3 data, short-sellers have recouped $890 million in losses so far this quarter, but they’ve got a long way to go. Short interest in Tesla hit a record high on Sept. 21 when 31.3 million shares worth $11.5 billion were out on loan. Some short-sellers have covered since then, and now S3 pegs Tesla short interest at 28 million shares worth $8.6 billion.
Dusaniwsky referenced Musk’s words about short-sellers being “hurtful” by borrowing Tesla shares in his note this afternoon.
He responded with, “But Tesla shorts have been the ones who have been hurting for almost two years, maybe now the shoe is on the other foot.”