Tesla Shorts Reduce Position. Fat Trimming Says S3 Partners

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that he plans to take Tesla Private, the initial impression was Tesla Shorts would rush towards the exit creating a short stampede. One reason for that was Elon Musk didn’t just say he plans to take Tesla private but also added a $420 buyout price for his proposed transaction.

A week has gone by since the announcement and the stock price has erased all the gains it made after the tweet, closing at $347.64 on Tuesday.

According to S3 partners, a financial analytics firm that tracks short positions of various US equities, Tesla shorts are trimming some fat but yet to rush for the exit causing a short squeeze.

The shorts have offloaded nearly a million shares (930k) since the tweet. It’s not a lot because Tesla Short position still stands at a whopping 33.74 million. But it must also be noted that Tesla Short interest has been coming down at a steady clip since the last week of April.

As you can see from the chart above, Tesla shorts increased their position from under 31 million in early January to nearly 39 million by the end of April. This is the time period when Tesla struggled immensely with production problems. No one really expected Tesla to reach weekly 5,000 Model 3s and 2,000 Model S and X production.

The shorts kept increasing their position as Tesla’s production woes continued. But things changed after June, as Tesla surprised everyone by building 5,031 Model 3s in the last week of June.

The Short position has come down from 39 million shares by the end of April to 33.74 million by August 14, 2018. Though the take private announcement would have thrown Tesla Shorts calculations off, the failure rate of big ticket acquisitions, mergers and Leveraged Buyouts is quite high. And more importantly, buyers need months to close the deal.

For example, Michael Dell took nearly nine months to take Dell Private. Anyone who holds a short position knows this – that they have time on their side. It’s still risky to stay put when the buyout price is made public, creating a minimum price floor for the stock price, but its better than rushing towards the exit and create a short squeeze.

Tesla shorts are holding their ground, or at the very least that’s the message they want to send the market, while they slowly reduce their exposure. Who knows how much of these short positions are already being hedged?

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