Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report holds its annual shareholders meeting Tuesday after the bell, and if history is any guide, it's a good idea to cover any short positions that you have in the troubled electric-car maker ahead of the gathering.
After all, the stock last year shot up meaningfully immediately following the event. In fact, it looks like the market has learned its lesson and has already bid up TSLA in the week leading up to this year's annual meeting.
Why do I think Tesla is likely to rally after Tuesday's session? Think about it -- a well-prepared CEO Elon Musk will get to speak unopposed, solely focusing on TSLA's stock price. He's going to promise the moon, and nobody will question or otherwise challenge him. Don't expect Musk to say anything that will cause the stock to go down.
In other words, this will be a totally lopsided set-up from a stock reaction perspective. It's 100% stacked against short-sellers. So, shorting the stock right now looks like a bad bet.
But what happens a few days following Tuesday's event? Well, the focus will once again return to how Tesla is actually performing -- and this comes down to two things:
Delivering the Right Number of Cars
Tesla's latest guidance calls for delivering 90,000 to 100,000 units in the second quarter.
To do so, the company is discounting prices on its cars, offering free Supercharging on some models and so forth. So, we can assume that Tesla will be moving more units during the second quarter than it did during the first.
But we can already see public auto-registration data from a few European countries that make this information available in near-real time -- and so far, those figures aren't looking pretty.
Profitability (or Lack Thereof)
Tesla's margins will be under pressure because of all of this discounting.
However, the company is getting huge de facto subsidies from governments around the world in the form of being able to sell carbon-dioxide emissions credits to other automakers. This could amount to several-hundred-million dollars per quarter, turning a loss into a profit.
This is really the only swing factor that matters for Tesla's financials, vastly overpowering any variance in actual car sales.
The Bottom Line
Add up all of the factors above and I think it's a good idea for shorts to stay away for Tesla for at least Tuesday and Wednesday. In fact, I've closed out almost all of my own short position in the stock over the past few weeks. However, I think you can consider re-entering a position in as little as a week or two.
At the time of publication, Wahlman was short TSLA, although positions may change at any time.