The cult of Tesla isn't just real, it's being used to fight back against short sellers, Wall Street - and, well, financial reality.
Such was the topic of an FT piece late last week that highlighted several Tesla stock owners, getting their thoughts on "detractors" of the company, short sellers and those who are generally critical of Elon Musk online.
Vivien Hantusch, a student in Germany who Elon Musk invited to an event for programmers at his house, via Twitter, said about short sellers: “It was the first stock I ever invested in — with Tesla, I felt I had to support the company, especially [given] the short sellers. I don’t do this to get a profit or a job, I do this because I love the company.”
Hantusch launched a podcast called Third Row in November that was focused on the company. Last month, they recorded an interview with Musk at one of his homes in LA. Her podcast stands in stark opposition to other podcasts (1,2,3) that have been regularly skeptical of Musk and his business dealings.
Sofiaan Fraval, a software engineer in Santa Barbara, California, who produces the podcast and is also a stockholder, said: “The dogs were running around and Marvin the Martian [Musk's dog] was sitting on my lap. That was so cool.”
Musk's online fan base has also included the often-ridiculed "Now You Know" podcast and HyperChange TV. And while the "army" that continues to support Musk online via social media and YouTube doesn't seem to know the first thing about public company accounting or economics, it seems that with Tesla's stock price closing the week around $750 per share, that may not even matter anymore.
The stock has scorched to new highs and seen record trading volumes over the last several weeks. Retail traders, not unlike the "army" that has stepped up online to defend Musk, also play a role. As we noted just days ago, Tesla is popular with retail brokerage Robinhood and is now the 15th most popular stock held on the app.
The rise in the stock price, regardless of the underlying fundamentals, marks at least a temporary win against skeptics and Wall Street. The company's robust valuation at this point affords Musk the opportunity to quickly shore up the company's balance sheet and raise cash at attractive terms for future use.
Analyst Toby Clothier of Mirabaud Securities in London is one skeptical analyst who made the mistake of actually looking at the company's financials to make his analysis: “We have prefaced virtually all of our work on this stock for the last month with the caveat that this stock has developed a life of its own.”
He worries people will be enticed to buy due to the sharp move in the stock: "There is a dream aspect to this whole story that has nothing to do with what is happening now."
Sam Kelly, a UK expat who lives outside Valencia in Spain and Tesla stockholder said of Musk: “He’s a geeky guy like the rest of us and that’s why I think people feel that connection with him. It’s strange, I’m a 38-year-old man and I’m getting excited when a middle-aged man responds to me on Twitter.”
Galileo Russell of HyperChange TV, a notable Tesla bull, said: “I think the Wall Street complex is crumbling. People don’t listen to analysts any more because they were wrong on one of the biggest, most disruptive companies in this era, potentially in this whole century.”
Tesla still has not had a profitable year.