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TheStreet Open House

How the New York Hedge Funds Lost Their Shirts on Tesla

Stocks in this article: TSLA AAPL NSANY GM F TM HMC

If all you see are the non-existent Teslas on the streets of New York, you would never believe this. These are the same people who shorted Apple (AAPL) in 2007 on the theory the iPhone would never get more than 1% or whatever market share.

Even after the recent decline in Apple shares, shorting Apple in 2007 turned out to be bad idea because Apple now has close to 20% of the worldwide smartphone market share, not below 1%.

2. They didn't even drive the car.

I'm obviously generalizing here, because most likely there is at least one Tesla short-seller who drove the car. However, I get the impression most of them didn't.

Actually, it gets better than that. How many Tesla short sellers have driven or owned one of General Motors' (GM) Chevrolet Volts or a Nissan (NSANY) LEAF or ford (T) Focus Electric? So far, I have yet to encounter a single one.

In other words, the pessimism toward Tesla has less to do with Tesla itself than it has to do with electric cars in general. The shorts simply don't understand why people would be interested in owning an electric car -- any electric car.

Much of the debate centers around whether Tesla is environmentally friendly or not. If it's not, then I guess the stock is a short, or at least so the argument goes.


That theory totally misses the point, in my view. Most people I know don't buy a Tesla because they think it's environmentally friendly, whether that's even true or not.

Most people buy Tesla -- and other electric cars -- because they drive better. They're quiet, have gobbles of instant torque and allow for that unique feeling of one-pedal driving. It's like buying a PC with an SSD instead of a HDD. Fewer moving parts mean they don't require service -- you just drive them forever, just like an iPad.

If you have not owned an electric car or driven it more than around the block, you would never know. Therefore, as a short, you are aiming in the wrong direction, and so you miss.

It's not relevant whether an electric car impacts upon the environment or not. I personally don't think there is anything wrong with the environment -- other than the loud noises made by cars and trucks -- so there is no problem in need of fixing except for noise pollution. Electric cars are awesome in the same way a Porsche 911 is more fun to drive than Toyota (TM) Corolla. An electric car makes a Porsche 911 seem boring and unsophisticated.

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