Tesla rallied almost 3% at $1,054, on track to close higher for the first time since Chief Executive Elon Musk on Saturday polled Twitter users about selling 10% of his stake.
Earlier in the session, Tesla dropped as much as 3.5%, briefly pulling the company’s market value below the $1 trillion mark reached last month.
While Tesla has lost over $160 billion in market value this week, retail investors have been net buyers of the stock. Some 59% of recent Tesla trade orders on Fidelity’s brokerage website have been for purchases, rather than sales.
Even as Tesla’s stock tumbled on Monday and Tuesday, retail investors made net purchases of $157 million, according to Vanda Research.
Tesla is now up 50% in 2021, thanks largely to an October rally that was fueled by an agreement to sell 100,000 vehicles to rental car company Hertz.
“The company itself is on fire, with strong results,” said Tim Ghriskey, a senior portfolio strategist at New York-based investment management firm Ingalls and Snyder. “That is not going to fade quickly.”
Nearly 58% of respondents in Musk’s Twitter poll backed a sale of his shares, and he said he would accept either outcome. A 10% stake of Musk’s shareholdings was worth about $18 billion, as of Wednesday’s stock price.
Investors are keeping a close watch on Tesla filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for any clues on the share-sale plans. The SEC rules give companies four working days to report major events.
Record buying of short-term bullish Tesla call options in recent weeks has helped fuel the stock’s swings, analysts at Vanda Research wrote on Wednesday.
With the bulk of open Tesla call options set to expire this week and next, there is a “not negligible” risk that further options-driven selling will lead to a larger pullback for the stock, Vanda’s analysts wrote.
Also on Wednesday, Rivian Automotive Inc surged 38% in its Nasdaq debut, giving the Amazon.com Inc-backed electric vehicle maker a market valuation of nearly $93 billion and making it the second-most valuable U.S. automaker.
Wall Street’s biggest institutional investors are betting on Rivian to be the next big player in a sector dominated by Tesla amid mounting pressure on automakers in China and Europe to eliminate vehicle emissions.
Four former and current Tesla board members, including Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk, filed to sell nearly $1 billion worth of shares late last month, according to filings and market data.
“A CEO asking his followers if he should sell a large number of shares is never going to reflect well in the share price. Doing so a day after his brother has sold a large number just compounds investor fears,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Oanda.
“That said, we need to take Musk with a pinch of salt and investors may quickly view this as a dip buying opportunity.”
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