Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) bear Jim Chanos is no longer shorting the automaker’s stock. Instead, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company’s longtime skeptic has moved on to a “Put” position.
Chanos said in an interview with CNBC that he has abandoned the “Short” position he once held on Tesla stock, SeekingAlpha reported. Evidently, the losses came to be too much for the investor to handle, so he has moved on. Interestingly, Chanos commended Musk in December for a job well done, admitting defeat but not moving his belief that TSLA stock will eventually meet its demise.
Short and put positions are similar because they are fundamentally used in a bearish manner to predict the decline of a security or index. Short selling involves the sale of a security not owned by the seller but borrowed and then sold in the market to be brought back up at a later time. If the stock rises and doesn’t fall, it opens the potential for large-scale losses.
Put options give the buyer the right to sell an underlying asset at an agreed price in an option contract. The maximum loss is the premium paid within the option.
Still not a true believer in Tesla’s valuation or its label as the world’s most valuable automaker, Chanos recognized that EPS estimates for the automaker in January 2019 for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years were higher than what they are today, even though the stock was trading at only $50 per share split-adjusted.
That kind of tells you a little bit about what’s happened in the marketplace in that valuations have just gone parabolic for basically a company that’s still, in the eyes of analysts, earning at or below where they thought it would be earning two years ago. That’s kind of incredible,” he said.
But since January 2019, Tesla has grown significantly. The company only had one production facility in operation at the time, and Giga Berlin wouldn’t be announced until November of the same year. Tesla was only building three vehicles, and only one of them, the Model 3, was a mass-market car geared toward affordable price points that would open the doors for a wide-range EV adoption across the world. Tesla had already announced Giga Shanghai by this point, but the project was far from complete and wouldn’t start delivering vehicles until January 2020.
January 2019 also saw the company’s Q4 2018 Earnings Call and the release of delivery and production figures for the electric automaker. In the final quarter of 2018, Tesla manufactured 86,555 cars, 61,394 of them were the Model 3. For the year, the company delivered 245,240 cars in total. It was Tesla’s third profitable quarter all-time at that point.
In comparison, Tesla more than doubled that output in 2020. It produced over 509,000 vehicles in 2020 alone, with 98% of them being delivered, leaving little room for inventory or “falling demand” arguments. Tesla managed to deliver 180,570 cars in Q4 2020 alone, well over 50% of the 2018 full-year delivery figures.
Additionally, Tesla short-sellers, bears, and skeptics alike rarely consider that the company is more than an automaker. With a line of sustainable energy products at competitive prices, Tesla has an energy sector that has cause for major disruption moving forward. Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya says that Tesla will “double and triple again” after its energy business takes off, which could spell even worse news for Chanos and other short-sellers moving forward.