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Tesla Tops $900 Mark, Chasing Toyota as World's Most Valuable Carmaker

Tesla shares topped the $900 Tuesday, lifting Elon Musk's company to within reach of Toyota, the world's most valuable carmaker.

Tesla Inc.  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report shares extended gains to a fresh record high Tuesday, following on from the biggest single-session advance in six years yesterday, as it closes in on Toyota Motor Co.  (TM) - Get Toyota Motor Corp. Report for the title of world's most valuable carmaker.

Tesla surged nearly 20% yesterday in heavy trading volume, boosting its market value to just under $141 billion, well ahead of domestic rivals Ford  (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report and General Motors  (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report and now only $50 billion behind market leader Toyota -which sold 10.74 million cars last year compared to 367, 500 for Elon Musk's Palo Alto, California-based Tesla.

“It’s nowhere near ended at that point and time,” billionaire investor Ron Baron, and early Tesla buyer, told CNBC Tuesday, suggesting the company could have a trillion dollar market cap in ten year's time. “There’s a lot of growth opportunities from that point going forward."

Tesla shares were marked 23.6% higher in mid-afternoon trading to change hands at $964.00  each  in a move that would mark a near 430% gain from the stock's June 3 trough of $179.87 per share. The gains also peg Tesla's market value at $173 billion.

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Yesterday's move, which added $23 billion in value for Tesla shareholders, was largely pegged to earlier-than-expected profitability at Panasonic Corp. which makes batteries for the clean-energy carmaker at a jointly-owned plant in Nevada, and a pair of analysts upgrades that had retail investors pouring into the stock. Panasonic, it should be noted, also has a joint venture with Toyota that will launch in April.

Argus analyst Bill Selesky raised his Tesla target price by 45%, to $808, citing its "dominant position in the electric vehicle industry" and forecast "improved performance in 2020 and beyond." Ark Invest, meanwhile, put Tesla's value at in 2024 at an eye-watering $7,000 per share, based on optimism about its gross margins and capital efficiency.

Tesla shares, however, continue to have the biggest short interest  in the U.S. market, with some $15.86 billion -- or 24.38 million shares -- betting against its continued rise. 

That's around 18.22% of the entire Tesla float, dwarfing the 0.93% bet against Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report and the 0.88% bet against Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report, the second and third most-shorted stocks in the market respectively.  

Some of the short interest could be linked to the stock's recent surge, which has seen levels from $400 to $700 taken out since late last year. In fact, while it took Tesla nearly 1,000 days to go from $300 to $400 a share, it took only 25 days to rise to $500, 18 days to rise to $600 and a mere 4 days to rise to $700 during yesterday's session.