Shares of Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report are up more than 1% in midday Thursday trading, again outperforming the S&P 500's ~1.5% decline. Over the last few months, the performance from the two securities couldn't be further apart.
Since Oct. 1, Tesla stock is up more than 13%, while the S&P 500 is down 10%. Since mid-October, it's even worse, with Tesla up 36% and the index down 4%.
It's left Tesla stock trading at a vital level near $360 - one that the bears are trying their best to defend.
Considering Thursday's news, short-sellers are doing a decent job keeping Tesla in check. Granted, it comes on a day where stocks are under significant pressure, although that hasn't stopped Tesla shares from rising in the past.
The stock's drag comes despite reports saying Tesla will not only complete their new factory in Shanghai, being called Gigafactory 3, but will be producing vehicles in it by the second half of 2019. Given that we're just a few weeks away from the end of the year, that puts Chinese production just 7 to 12 months away. That's huge news for Tesla if the automaker can deliver.
Of course, that's always the question with Tesla: Can it deliver on time?
This report comes from the Shanghai government, but during last quarter's record results, CEO Elon Musk was also bullish on Tesla's future in China. "We're driving to have Model 3 production for the China market or the Greater China market active certainly next year; it will be happening next year," he said.
We have noted several times over the past six months where Tesla management has been more consistent and reliable with their guidance and production outlook. Management has also indicated that it will not look to raise capital. These reports are encouraging, particularly with how large of a market China is.
Population figures aside - where China is roughly four times larger than the U.S. - the country is home to the largest electric vehicle (EV) market in the world. Due to rising trade tensions, though, Tesla has been on the wrong end of the tariff war. As if it weren't expensive enough to get vehicles over to China, these added expenses are not good for demand. Particularly with other EV options - like Nio (NIO) - Get Report - popping up in China.
While it will be much smaller this year, mainly due to the huge acceleration of Model 3 production in the U.S., almost 20% of Tesla's revenue came from China in 2017. So getting up and running in the country could be a boon for the EV maker.
The company is also looking at expanding its European operations. Tesla has been unveiling the Model 3 all throughout Europe over the last few days. Customers are now able to configure their vehicles and based on prior comments from Musk, delivery should take place in the first quarter of 2019.
As the Model 3 continues to gain momentum across the globe, that should bode well for Tesla moving forward.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.