Stocktake: Animal spirits driving Tesla’s stock price

Does it make sense that Tesla’s valuation almost doubled in two weeks?

Elon Musk overtook Warren Buffett last week to become the seventh-richest man in the world. Photograph: iStock

Elon Musk overtook Warren Buffett last week to become the seventh-richest man in the world. Photograph: iStock

 

“Wow”. That was Tesla chief executive Elon Musk’s reaction last week after Piper Sandler upped its price target for his business from to $2,322 from $939. “Wow” is an appropriate response when it comes to Tesla’s stock price.

Last March, Stocktake asked if the Tesla bubble had burst, following a fall from $950 to $350. This columnist has long been sceptical about Tesla’s valuation but thankfully resisted the temptation to gloat at the time, suggesting it was “premature” for bears to claim victory. That turned out to be an understatement, given the stock almost touched $1,800 last week. Whether this makes sense is another question. Musk overtook Warren Buffett last week to become the seventh-richest man in the world after Tesla’s market capitalisation hit $325 billion – more than Toyota, Volkswagen and Honda combined.

Tesla devotees will protest at the comparison and insist it is much more than a car company. That’s fine, but does it make sense that Tesla’s valuation almost doubled in two weeks? Does it make sense the company’s valuation rose fivefold since March? What about the fact that even Musk cautioned in May that Tesla’s stock price, then around $760, was “too high imo”?

What can one conclude from the fact that at Robinhood, the zero-commission broker favoured by the growing army of day-trading novices, the number of accounts holding Tesla has more than doubled since June? When it comes to Tesla, fundamentals don’t matter. This is all about momentum and animal spirits.

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