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Tesla Stock Split Ignites a Cynical Short-Term Price Pump

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:19 PM
Simon Chandler
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:19 PM
  • Tesla announced a five-for-one stock split, allegedly to make its shares more accessible.
  • As with Apple’s upcoming split, it looks more like a ploy to boost the company’s market cap.
  • The stock remains in a bubble; investors may eventually get burned.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced a five-for-one stock split, following the example set by Apple over a week ago. The electric carmaker will provide existing investors with four additional shares for every share they own as of August 21.

Tesla stock will begin trading on a split-adjusted basis from August 31, just like Apple. The company claims this will make its stock more “accessible to employees and investors.”

This is incorrect. As with the Apple four-for-one stock split, Tesla’s move looks like a cynical ploy to pump its overall market cap.

And it seems to have worked.

tesla stock price today
Tesla stock surged on the stock split news because, apparently, that’s how things work now. | Source: Yahoo Finance 

Tesla Stock Split: One ‘Better’ Than Apple’s

Tesla stock had already ballooned more than 200% year to date, and the five-for-one split announcement added more nonsensical fuel to the bewildering rally.

As of 10:03 am ET, TSLA shares had spiked 6.7% to $1,463.

Tesla stock split price pump
Tesla (blue) has massively outperformed the S&P 500 (red) over the year to date. | Source: Yahoo Finance 

Retail investors appear to be excited by the news. Twitter is inundated with casual traders lining up to bow at the altar of Elon Musk.

Tesla stock split tweet
A Twitter user celebrates the Tesla stock split announcement. | Source: Twitter 

Some are predicting that Tesla’s stock price will rise even higher as investors clamor to buy before August 21.

Tesla split reaction tweet
One casual trader expects a busy day for Tesla shares. | Source: Twitter 

Robintrack data suggests that Tesla has already witnessed an increase in popularity . Nearly 3,500 additional Robinhood users have bought TSLA stock over the past 24 hours – bringing the total to 545,000. This figure will rise even higher as news of the split spreads.

This Looks Like a Cynical Price Pump

It’s hard to believe Tesla’s five-for-one split is really about making “stock ownership more accessible to employees and investors.”

If its stock ownership weren’t already accessible, it wouldn’t have risen by over 200% since January. It’s already perfectly accessible, thanks in part to the existence of fractional share trading. This lets you buy, say, a fifth of a Tesla share at a fifth of the price.

Casual investors don’t seem to have any problem acquiring TSLA shares, as indicated by the popularity of the company on Robinhood. It’s the eighth most owned stock on the platform.

Tesla Robinhood popularity
Despite being ridiculously overpriced, TSLA is still the eighth most popular stock on Robinhood. | Source: Robintrack 

Tesla was all too aware of what impact announcing a stock split would have on its share price.

Experienced analysts have consistently warned that the stock is in a bubble. And even after the nominal price of a single share gets diluted by 80%, Tesla’s market cap will remain in a bubble.

As today’s inexplicable feeding frenzy demonstrates, all a stock split will do is cause prices to spiral even further out of control.

For inexperienced investors, the chance to receive four “extra” TSLA shares for nothing is too hard to resist. They think the stock split is effectively a chance to get in on the “ground floor” or buy shares at a “discount.”

Their optimism may be rewarded – temporarily. But with Tesla still making only slim profits – and reporting a 4% annual decline in automotive revenue in Q2 2020  – it’s hard to shake the suspicion that it’s ridiculously overpriced.

Disclaimer: This article represents the author’s opinion and should not be considered investment or trading advice from CCN.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.