Bets in the stock market can lead to interesting developments. Noted hedge fund manager David Einhorn has announced he is returning his leased Tesla Model S car. The billionaire president of Greenlight Capital LLC informed his clients through a letter that he was happy the lease on his Tesla had ended, citing "worsening problems with its touch screen and power windows,” according to a Bloomberg report. (See also: Who is David Einhorn, Greenlight's Founder?.)
Greenlight Capital's fund has lost more than 18% during the first half of 2018, according to Reuters. A major contributor to the loss was the sharp pike in Tesla Inc. (TSLA) shares—a 29% surge in price during the last quarter—and Einhorn’s short bets on Tesla shares went against it.
Einhorn has been a steady critic of Tesla and has been holding short positions on the stock. Justifying the return of his Tesla Model S, Einhorn claimed that the car’s residual values are falling. Earlier, he criticized Tesla’s Model 3, which received modest reviews and bad publicity owing to production challenges, and said that the developments were “probably having a negative impact on the brand.” He advised that the car may not be “produced profitably anytime soon, if ever” and did not approve of the company’s plan to rush cars to customers. (See also: Tesla Model 3 Not Recommended By Consumer Reports.)
A Publicity Stunt Following Lost Bets?
Einhorn has also been critical of company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, calling him “erratic and desperate” after the colorful CEO refused to answer an analyst’s question calling it “boring (and) boneheaded” during the company’s last quarterly earnings call. (See also: Elon Musk Defends Criticism of Analysts.)
Musk was quick to respond to Einhorn’s move of returning his Tesla. In his trademark style of regularly going after critics on Twitter, Musk tweeted, “Tragic. Will send Einhorn a box of short shorts to comfort him through this difficult time.”
While Einhorn may have returned the Tesla Model S, he is not writing off the electric vehicles (EV) completely. The letter mentions that he is excited to take delivery of the Jaguar I-Pace plug-in crossover, a battery-fitted EV that is expected to compete with Tesla within the next year.
Einhorn has been on the receiving end owing to the troubled performance of his investments in recent times. Since 2014, Greenlight Capital has suffered a loss of 25%, and 15% was lost during 2018-YTD. Bloomberg reports that he has lost nearly every one of the top 40 positions in his $5.5 billion portfolio this year. Along with Tesla, his loss-making short positions include Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), which have gone against him with big upward moves.