Good news for those of you who shorted Tesla Motors' stock: the electric car company’s shares are already falling in price as the zeal around its $226 million public debut begins to fade — after just two days.
TSLA closed at $21.96 today, its third day of trading, after falling $1.87. Yesterday saw the wildest ride with shares skyrocketing up to $30.42 before falling back down to $23. The company may still be celebrating its rock star showing on Tuesday, when the stock price jumped 40.5 percent — but the gradual decline that so many analysts predicted may not end up being that gradual.
Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] can attribute much of its recent success to the hype surrounding its sexy products. Even people who bought private shares of the company before the IPO admitted that the buzz influenced their decision to get on board. But now that the big day is over, people are taking a closer look at what Tesla has actually accomplished, and what it is likely to do going forward.
The answers to these questions aren’t so happy and shiny. Tesla continues to lose more and more money, and its single product, the $109,000 Roadster, isn’t exactly selling like hotcakes (a little over 1,000 have been delivered in a year in a half). On top of that, its next product — which is less concrete than the company and its CEO Elon Musk let on — the Model S all-electric sedan, isn’t due out until 2012 at the very earliest. What does the company plan to do to maintain investor enthusiasm for two more years? No one knows yet.
It also hasn’t helped that the market has been unusually gloomy this week. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell another 7.88 points (0.37 percent) today. Tesla defied poor market conditions on Tuesday, but it might be falling prey to them now.
The slide in the company’s stock price, while not altogether surprising, already has some analysts guessing that Tesla may just be glorified acquisition bait, with no chance or remaining independent. Who might be interested in buying the company? Look no further than its current partners and investors Daimler and Toyota, the experts say.
The core of this argument is that Tesla isn’t so much a car company as it is a technology company. When you boil down its business plan, the only component that’s special is its electric drive train. It could credibly sell only battery packs — like the ones it’s already assembling for Daimler — and its drive trains, as it might to Toyota, and probably still bring in substantial revenue. In striving to be a full-on automotive company, its facing unbeatable competition and a bundle of bureaucracy and red tape that it has no experience navigating, analysts say.
The rapid dip in stock price suggests that this fate isn’t so unlikely, despite the lofty dreams and fierce protestations of CEO Musk and his team.
In a VentureBeat interview with Alan Salzman, CEO of VantagePoint Venture Partners — the biggest venture investor in Tesla — he said he hopes Tesla’s rise to prominence will act as a catalyst for the automotive industry at large to migrate toward electric transportation infrastructure. And it’s arguable that it already has, hastening rivals like the Nissan Leaf and General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt to market.
Salzman didn’t say anything about Tesla remaining independent and becoming the next Ford as a measure of its success. In fact, its technology might be more influential if it is absorbed by a bigger player that can take it to mass commercial scale and alter the way everyone in the game makes cars going forward.
This story, written by Camille Ricketts, was originally posted on VentureBeat's GreenBeat, an editorial partner of AllCarsElectric.