Why Tesla Stock Is Tanking

When Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) officially joined the S&P 500 on December 21, the shares opened their first day at just over $666 a share, after closing the previous session at $695. A day later, the stock tumbled to its post-S&P 500 listing low of around $640.

At Tuesday’s opening bell, the electric vehicle maker’s stock traded at $662, below its opening price on December 21. The stock closed at $714.50 on Monday, a decline of 8.6% on the day. From its 52-week high of just over $900 posted late last month, Tesla shares have dropped by more than 25%.

Is there something fundamentally different about the company since last month? Tesla reported fourth-quarter results on January 27 that missed the consensus earnings forecast while beating the consensus revenue estimate. The stock dropped $30 the next day, about 3.5%.

On February 1, analysts at Piper Sandler put a price target of $1,200 on the stock, implying a market cap of more than $1 trillion, and the stock added nearly $50, or nearly 6% to close the day at $839.81.

A week later, on February 8, Tesla revealed that it had invested $1.5 billion of its cash on hand in bitcoin. While that pushed bitcoin above $48,000, Tesla’s shares added $11 on that date, a gain of 1.9%. After gain, the stock price turned south and has trended downward ever since.

Did buying bitcoin play a role? There will be some investors who believe this is as good a reason as any. Bitcoin traded Tuesday at virtually the cryptocurrency’s closing price on February 9. Since posting an all-time high of $57,616 over the weekend, bitcoin has dropped more than $10,000.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s remarks on bitcoin have not helped stabilize the price of the digital currency either. She told the New York Times Monday that bitcoin is “an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions, and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.” She did admit, however, that bitcoin is unlikely to go away.

Yields on U.S. 10-year Treasuries have risen from 1.09% a year ago to 1.38% early Tuesday morning. Investors have been expressing more concern about inflation recently as Treasury rates rise. Even high-flying tech stocks (which Tesla trades like) can’t catch a bid. The Nasdaq Composite traded down more than 3.5% early Tuesday.

Falling bitcoin prices probably have little to nothing to do with Tesla’s share price drop, except as an indicator that the company may have made a mistake. More likely is that investors are beginning to see a market change coming and are taking profits they made (particularly on tech stocks and Tesla) over the past year.

For the year to date, Tesla shares are down more than 9%, while the Nasdaq index is up 5%. Last year, Tesla stock added more than 740% while the Nasdaq was up about 43%, so a deeper drop should be expected.

Tesla’s poor showing in the latest dependability rating from J.D. Power is certainly not good news for the company, but neither was it likely to cause share prices to drop by relatively large percentages.

Almost an hour after the opening bell, Tesla stock traded down about 6.5% to $668.300, in a 52-week range of $70.10 to $900.40. At one point in early trading, shares traded down by $95 from Monday’s closing price, a drop of 13.3%, to $619.50. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $610.34.

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