NEW YORK – Jim Chanos, the Greek-American founder and president of Kynikos Associates, a New York hedge fund, is changing his assessment of Tesla, the electric car company, and its CEO billionaire Elon Musk, the New York Post reported on December 3.
“Five years into his crusade against Tesla’s stock price, Jim Chanos is licking his wounds — and finally tipping his hat to Elon Musk,” the Post reported, adding that the “63-year-old short seller admitted on Thursday he has slashed the size of his bet against the electric car company near the end of a year in which its stock has surged nearly 600 percent, making it the most valuable automaker in the world with a market capitalization of $562 billion.”
“Data from August compiled by S3 Partners showed that Tesla short sellers lost more than $25 billion combined betting against Musk and his cars in 2020,” the Post reported, noting that “Tesla’s stock is up almost 20 percent since then.”
“It’s been painful, clearly,” Chanos told Bloomberg on Dec. 3, the Post reported.
Comments from Wall Street soon followed with one rival hedge fund manager telling the Post, “It’s about time! Shorting something that’s up big will hurt you big. Shorting something up 600 percent will f–king kill you.”
Chanos “is Musk’s loudest and longest-tenured critic, having called Tesla ‘a walking insolvency’ as far back as 2016,” the Post reported, adding that “he has been a steady gadfly for Musk, throwing barbs in his investor letters, media appearances and thinly-veiled Twitter persona @WallStCynic.”
“Using that account, Chanos responded to a Musk tweet updating progress on Tesla’s notoriously-delayed autonomous driving program by replying sarcastically, ‘As your attorney, I advise you to stop speaking immediately,’” the Post reported, noting that “Musk, meanwhile, has consistently taunted Tesla short sellers, telling his own young children during a January 2019 Rolling Stone interview that investors taking a short position on Tesla are ‘jerks who want us to die.’”
In November 2019, Musk tweeted, “So many reporters gave Chanos airtime when he called Tesla a worthless fraud. Now that he has been proven wrong, silence,” the Post reported.
“While Chanos remains short [on] Tesla stock, according to his interview with Bloomberg the position is well below 5 percent of his portfolio at Kynikos,” the Post reported, adding that “while he tweeted mockingly about the car company’s still-delayed ‘full service driving’ program as recently as Wednesday, he showed he is willing to back off when push comes to shove.”
Chanos “reiterated his belief on Thursday that Tesla is more of a cult of personality built around Musk than a long-term profitable manufacturer of cars,” the Post reported. Bloomberg then asked what Chanos would say if he ever met Musk in person and he replied, “I’d say, ‘Job well done so far,’” the Post reported, adding that on Dec. 3 Tesla shares “rose 4.3 percent to close at $593.38.”