The stock exchanges released their latest short interest data on Christmas Eve, and the number of folks betting against Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) continues to inch higher. There were 30.3 million shares of the electric-car maker sold short as of Dec. 13, far more than the 18.5 million shares shorted when interest bottomed out in mid-July.
We’re closing in on the 32.3 million shares held short on March 15, and it’s important to remember where the stock was at the time. Shares of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) closed at $35.29 that day. Nine months later we find ourselves with a market darling that has more than quadrupled despite the pullback that investors experienced earlier this quarter.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s been debunking skeptics as it expands overseas to grow sales of its critically acclaimed yet pricey Model S sedan. This week it gained more momentum after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stuck its five-star rating for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s signature vehicle. Some feared that recent news of fires as a result of road debris penetrating the battery pack in a couple of cars would ding its safety rating. It didn’t.
The spike in short interest may be seen by worrywarts as a sign to stay away, but we already saw how it should have been a dinner bell for bulls during the stock’s springtime peak in bets placed against Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) . We’ve now seen short interest move higher for four consecutive reporting periods, and that’s not exactly a bearish sign.
What does this table tell us? On the surface it tells us skepticism grows about either Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s viability or its valuation. One can argue that $19 billion is a pretty steep sticker price for a company delivering less than 2,000 cars a month. But that does a disservice to how Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s pulled off three quarters of better-than-expected profitability this year, and how its prospects for international expansion, next year’s Model X crossover SUV, and the more economical model to follow require a broader horizon in weighing what Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s worth. The last time that short interest got this high the bears paid dearly. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s unlikely to quadruple over the next nine months. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) at $80 billion would certainly be a stretch. But now that we’re back to more than 30 million shares sold short, it sets the stage for a short squeeze when positive catalysts force the naysayers to cut their losses and cover their positions.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ’s not cheap, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be less cheap in the near future.
The article One More Reason Not to Short Tesla Motors originally appeared on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) . The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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