Tesla sell-off puts at risk its $1 trillion club membership

Elon Musk’s fortune also plunges by $50bn in two days after controversial Tesla Twitter poll putting Musk’s lead over Jeff Bezos as world’s richest person has narrowed by about $83bn

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shares fell for the fourth straight session on Wednesday, putting at risk the electric-car maker’s position in the $1 trillion club after top boss Elon Musk polled Twitter users about selling 10% of his stake.

Shares fell as low as 3.5% to $987.31 in volatile early trading, briefly pushing its market value below the $1 trillion mark.

The company has lost nearly $200 billion since Monday following Musk’s poll, more than General Motors (GM.N) and Ford Motor (F.N) combined market capitalization.

The world’s most valuable carmaker entered the elite trillion-dollar club last month after landing its biggest-ever order from rental car company Hertz for 100,000 Tesla vehicles. read more

The selloff was spurred by Musk’s poll over the weekend asking his Twitter followers if he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla. Nearly 58% of them backed a sale.

Investors are keeping a close watch on Tesla filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for any clues on the share-sale plans. The SEC rules give companies four working days to report major events.

Analysts at research firm Vanda Research warned there could be a bigger pullback based on call options activity in the stock.

Call options allow an investor to bet on gains in the share price without necessarily owning the underlying stock. Both retail and institutional investors have loaded up on Tesla call options, with open interest concentrated in Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 expiries, they said.

Four former and current Tesla board members, including Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk, filed to sell nearly $1 billion worth of shares late last month, according to filings and market data.

“A CEO asking his followers if he should sell a large number of shares is never going to reflect well in the share price. Doing so a day after his brother has sold a large number just compounds investor fears,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Oanda.

“That said, we need to take Musk with a pinch of salt and investors may quickly view this as a dip buying opportunity.”

Despite the selloff, the stock is still up nearly 45% for the year after hitting a series of record highs in an eye-watering rally that catapulted the company into the trillion-dollar club.

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