Tesla’s brutal year brings $17bn windfall for shorts

Electric vehicle maker is on track for worst ever annual performance

Investors betting against Tesla are getting the big bonanza they have been waiting for, with the electric vehicle maker set to record its worst annual performance on record.

Short sellers in the company – or bearish investors who stand to gain when an asset’s price falls – are poised to reap mark-to-market profits of about $17 billion (€15.9 billion), making Tesla the most profitable short trade of the year, data from S3 Partners shows.

Tesla has tumbled more than 42 per cent in December up to Wednesday’s US close, driving it to a loss of 68 per cent this year – marking a radical about face for a stock that surged during the low-rate era of the pandemic.

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It is a rare victory for the shorts, whose 89 per cent return comes after several years of significant losses, S3’s Ihor Dusaniwsky said. About 2.9 per cent of Tesla’s free float is held short, according to S3 data.


Tesla has faced a tumultuous year, with investors fleeing risk assets over concerns about geopolitical uncertainty, high inflation, rising interest rates and a possible recession. The stock has also been hit by worries that Tesla chief executive Elon Musk’s focus will be diverted to his recently acquired social media company, Twitter, just as demand for electric vehicles is set to take a hit.

Mr Dusaniwsky expects short selling to persist until the stock reaches a bottom. But analysts and investors are still struggling to see a bottom, especially as the company is due to report fourth-quarter delivery numbers early next month and has been offering large buyer incentives. – Bloomberg