(Bloomberg) — After a $280 billion rally since late May, Tesla Inc. uses a reliable method to fuel further profits. It might not work out that way.
The electric vehicle maker’s second stock split in as many years takes effect when U.S. markets open Thursday, a move aimed at bolstering an already strong base of retail investors. The prior in 2020 was among several factors that drove the stock up more than eightfold that year.
The latest split comes after similar moves by Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc., whose subsequent stock returns have shown that this once-reliable valuation-boosting tactic is losing steam amid bear market ravages. Amazon shares fell more than 10% from when it announced the split to the day it took effect, while Alphabet lost 21% between those events.
“The smoke-and-mirror push in stock splits is much more prevalent in a bull market when retail investors rush into stocks,” said Greg Martin, managing director and co-founder of Rainmaker Securities. “In bear markets, retail investors tend to be less involved, and institutional players would never be fooled by a stock split into moving into a stock.”
Shares of the Elon Musk-led company have fallen 12% since late March, when it announced its plan to break up, a far cry from 2020, when the stock rose 60% from the announcement to its last pre-launch close of the separation adjustment. marketing. Tesla traded at $303.04 at 4:12 a.m. in premarket New York trading, from its previous close of $297.10 when adjusted for the split.
Riskier growth stocks such as Tesla have borne the brunt of a worsening stock market sentiment this year amid the threat of a recession. The stock is down 16% year-to-date, heading for its first annual decline since 2016. And having rallied 42% through Wednesday’s close since hitting a year-to-date low on May 24, the rally hit a wall on August as the broader enthusiasm among Retail investors have again begun to point.
According to Vanda Research, investors tend to “cut back sharply” on stock purchases in the weeks after a split takes effect. The company doesn’t think it will be any different for Tesla this time, it said in a note.
In addition to tempting investors, the stock’s impressive valuation can also make profits more difficult. Tesla trades at about 57 times forward earnings estimates compared with 17 times for the S&P 500. And analysts’ average price target suggests a decline of about 3% over the next 12 months, even though the benchmark is expected to rise more than 15% .
“There’s a lot of hope, speculation, hero worship at the current valuation,” said Catherine Faddis, chief investment officer at Grace Capital. To buy the stock right now, an investor has to believe that in 10 years Tesla will have $800 billion in revenue, Faddis said, nearly 10 times this year’s estimates.
Then there are a number of the company’s challenges — production problems in China, ongoing supply chain shortfalls in the auto industry and high raw material costs, as well as Musk’s litigation with Twitter Inc. — which may dull the luster of any potential exuberance driven by disintegration.
However, Tesla’s strong popularity among the mom-and-pop investor crowd may provide a short-term boost to the stock if the broader investment climate improves again.
“A strong retail following is the key ingredient for a stock split to make a difference,” said Rainmaker Securities’ Martin, adding that Tesla’s timing for the split may prove fortunate as the climate act will “create significant news demand for electric vehicles and Tesla is the market leader in the EV market.”
Technical chart of the day
When Tesla executes its split, there will be only eight Nasdaq 100 components with stocks priced above $500. This year’s market selloff, combined with a series of splits, has meant that the number of companies with share prices above $500 has halved since the start of the year.
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