Tesla’s stock is headed for its worst month, quarter, year on record

Tesla shares have fallen 35% this month — and short-sellers piled on

Win McNamee | Getty Images

Tesla’s sell-off intensified on Tuesday, with the stock dropping an additional 8%. Elon Musk’s electric car company is days away from closing out its worst month, quarter and year on record and has moved past Meta to become the worst-performing stock in 2022 among the most valuable tech companies.

The latest drop comes after The Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla will continue a weeklong production halt at its Shanghai facility, facing a fresh onslaught of Covid cases within its Chinese workforce.

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Tesla shares have fallen 35% this month — and short-sellers piled onCNBC Pro

Tesla performance, year-to-date

Reuters reported that when Tesla’s Shanghai plant reopens in January, it will do so for just 17 days, in a break from Tesla’s established practices. Shanghai has been battered by a fresh wave of Covid infections this month.

Tesla shares have fallen over 70% from their record high in November 2021. The stock is down over 68% in 2022, roughly double the decline in the Nasdaq. Among major carmakers, Ford is down 45% and General Motors has fallen 43%. Since its IPO in 2010, Tesla has only fallen in one other year, an 11% drop in 2016.

For the month of December, Tesla has plunged 43%, by far its worst month ever, as it had never fallen more than 25% in a single month. And in the fourth quarter, the stock is down 58%, worse than its 38% drop in the second quarter of this year, which had been its worst period on record.

Last week, Tesla expanded discounts in North America for buyers of Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles. Those discounts came after the automaker offered incentives in mainland China for December auto sales earlier this month.

Meanwhile, at Twitter, Musk has continued to flirt with controversy, welcoming back previously banned users, enabling the continued releases of internal messages related to the company’s past handling of Covid and election-related content, and flip-flopping on policy changes.

Companies have paused or suspended paid advertising on the platform, prompting outbursts from Musk.

Twitter is bleeding cash, and Musk is selling Tesla stock in big chunks. According to filings in mid-December, Musk sold about 22 million more shares of Tesla, which were worth around $3.6 billion, Earlier this year, Musk told his millions of followers on social media that he had “no further TSLA sales planned” after April 28.

Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives wrote in a report on Tuesday that Musk’s leadership issues posed potentially deeper problems for the automaker.

“At the same time that Tesla is cutting prices and inventory is starting to build globally in face of a likely global recession, Musk is viewed as ‘asleep at the wheel’ from a leadership perspective,” wrote Ives, who maintained his buy recommendation on the stock.

Tesla investors want Musk to refocus his efforts on stabilizing the company that accounts for the vast majority of his wealth. Because of the extended sell-off, Musk ceded his title as the world’s richest person earlier this month to LVMH chair and CEO Bernard Arnault, according to Forbes.

“I think he really needs to focus on operations, focus on giving us great cars,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital who has a hold rating on the stock and an $85 price target.

As of midday on Tuesday, Tesla was trading at around $112.

— CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

WATCH: Elon Musk needs to focus on operations at Tesla

Elon Musk needs to focus on operations at Tesla, says Roth Capital's Craig Irwin

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