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March 4, 2019, 3:14 p.m. EST

Tesla will shed more than 66% this year, predicts former hedge-fund manager

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By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch

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Whitney Tilson in 2014 called his bet against Tesla “one of the biggest mistakes long or short of my investment career.” A few years of “sustained underperformance” later, he ended up shutting down his hedge fund.

But he hasn’t shut down his trash talk on Tesla shares.

“Today I’m making one of my rare big calls,” he wrote in an email posted on ValueWalk on Monday . “We will look back on last Friday as the beginning of the end for Tesla’s stock. I think Musk has no more rabbits to pull out of his hat and therefore it’s all downhill from here. I predict that by the end of the year, the stock, today at $295, will be under $100.”

‘The risk/reward of being short has improved dramatically from where it was by Thursday morning.’

Whitney Tilson

Considering Tilson’s checkered history with Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -0.69%  , his “big call” probably won’t really rattle those believing in the rosy future as Elon Musk sees it. Still, since Tilson released the note, the stock has dropped more than 3% during a broader market retreat that also saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.89% and S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.46% get hit hard.

“I only make big calls when three things like up perfectly to create what I call an ‘inflection point’: the fundamentals, my ‘scuttlebutt’ research, and my read of investor sentiment,” Tilson went on to explain, adding that all three are combining to signal it’s time to unload Tesla. And fast.

Tilson acknowledges that he’s been hesitant to sell Tesla short since he got crushed years ago, and he reiterated his respect for the boss.

“While he too often behaves like a narcissistic brat,” Tilson wrote, “he’s undeniably an incredible entrepreneur with a remarkable track record.”

But that’s not enough for the stock.

“If Tesla had any positive card to play, they would have played it on Thursday afternoon in order to soften the blow. I think this means they are out of bullets,” he said. “As a result, I now think that the risk/reward of being short has improved dramatically from where it was by Thursday morning.”

Tesla saw its stock drop last week after Musk warned the company might not be profitable in the first quarter. Tesla, which is moving to online sales only to cut costs, also unveiled its hotly-anticipated $35,000 Model 3 and lowered prices on upgrades to its Autopilot system as well as its Model S and Model X vehicles.

As for Tilson, now that he’s out of the fund game, he plans to ramp up his research efforts by teaming with Porter Stansberry and Stansberry Research, with a goal of building his audience to 500,000 subscribers, according to Bloomberg .

US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 1,408.84
-9.73 -0.69%
Volume: 4.52M
Aug. 11, 2020 12:56p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$264.37 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : Dow Jones Global
+248.12 +0.89%
Volume: 232.08M
Aug. 11, 2020 12:56p
+15.40 +0.46%
Volume: 1.52B
Aug. 11, 2020 12:56p

Shawn Langlois is an editor and writer for MarketWatch in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @slangwise.

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