Burry of ‘Big Short’ Fame Reveals Large Bearish Bet Against Tesla

Tesla
FILE PHOTO: The logo of car manufacturer Tesla is seen at a dealership in London, Britain, May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

BERKELEY ⸺ The family office run by “Big Short” investor Michael Burry has disclosed a large bearish bet via options on Tesla Inc.

Scion Asset Management said in a regulatory filing on Monday that it had put options on 800,100 shares in Tesla as of the end of the first quarter. Based on Tesla’s closing price of $667.93 at the end of the first quarter the value of that many shares would be about $534 million.

Details on the strike price of the puts, their value and whether they are part of a broader trade were not available. Scion Asset Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.

While the actual value of the options position was not known, the Securities and Exchange Commission rules state positions under 10,000 shares and less than $200,000 in total market value are not required to be disclosed.

Put options give investors the right to sell shares at a certain price in the future.

It is possible the puts disclosed in the filing may be part of a larger trade that would curb losses if the put position goes against the fund, options analysts said.

“That could be the long leg of a put spread,” said Henry Schwartz, head of product intelligence at Cboe, referring to a strategy involving a combination of purchase and sale of put options.

“That said, since they reported no long shares, and Burry is a pure ‘value’ investor it probably is a short bet,” he said.

One of the investors profiled in the book “The Big Short’ and the film of the same name for betting more than $1 billion against the U.S. housing bubble, Burry has been skeptical of Tesla’s sky-high valuations.

Powered by strong sales and its first annual profit, Tesla shares jumped more than 700% last year and hit a record high of $883 per share in January. But they have since fallen as hedge fund managers raise concerns that the stock is overvalued.

The shares closed at $576 per share on Monday, valuing the electric car maker at around $555 billion. 

Burry also said last year that sales of green regulatory credits to Fiat Chrysler which Tesla has relied on to generate profits will dwindle.

Stellantis, owner of Fiat Chrysler, said this month it expects to achieve its European carbon dioxide emissions targets this year without environmental credits bought from Tesla. 

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Maiya Keidan; Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Cynthia Osterman; Reuters

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