As Tesla shares fall, Amazon takes over as most shorted U.S. stock

NEW YORK (Reuters) – With Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) shares briefly dipping below the $300 level on Thursday, the electric carmaker ceded its seat as the most shorted U.S. stock to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), according to data from financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners.

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Tesla short interest in dollars, calculated using the number of shares sold short and the share price, stood at $9.93 billion, on Thursday, just shy of $9.95 billion for Amazon, S3 Partners data showed.

Analysts said investors were still shorting Tesla shares, or taking positions that amounted to bets the stock would keep declining. Short-sellers aim to profit by selling borrowed shares, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price.

The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

“While there was some short covering the week after the tweet, there has still not been any significant net Tesla short covering on the Street,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at S3 in New York.

“Any traders who have closed down their positions to realize some profits have been replaced by new ones looking for continued price weakness,” he said.

Tesla shares whipsawed this month after Chief Executive Elon Musk on Aug. 7 tweeted he planned to take the company private, only to abandon the idea by Aug. 24.

Tesla closed down 0.6 percent at $303.15, on Thursday. The stock drifted as low as $288.20 in intra-day trade as recently as Aug. 20, but it has not closed below $300 since July 31. Tesla rose as high as $387.46 following Musk’s initial tweet about the going-private plan.

Since the Aug. 7 tweet, the dollar amount of Tesla shares sold short has dropped by 16 percent, while that for Amazon has climbed by 32 percent, S3 Partners data showed.

Amazon shares rose above $2,000 for the first time on Thursday and the company is just shy of a $1 trillion market capitalization.

S3’s Dusaniwsky, however, said that with Tesla shares near the $300 level, the company could reclaim top spot for the most shorted U.S. stock, where it had stood since early May.

“A $300 Tesla price may be a signal of increased short selling since when Tesla’s stock price dipped below $300 per share in March, shares shorted climbed from 30.0 million to 41.6 million in just over two months,” said Dusaniwsky.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Netflix (NFLX.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O), are some other top shorted U.S. stocks, as some investors have bet the high-flying technology names are due for a pullback.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Alden Bentley and David Gregorio

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