DETROIT, Mich. – Eight months after it seemed headed for the corporate junkyard, Tesla is now worth more than General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined, even though the Big Three together sell more cars and trucks in two weeks than Tesla does in a whole year.
In a reversal of fortune analysts find amazing if not nutty, the stock of the electric vehicle and solar panel maker has rocketed to nearly $900, up over 30% in just the past two days. It is now worth five times what it was in June, when there were whispers of bankruptcy surrounding the company founded by the erratic visionary Elon Musk.
Among the world's automakers, Tesla, with a market value Tuesday just shy of $160 billion, ranks behind only Toyota, at $232 billion.
Many investors see it as justified for a company that is leading the world in electric vehicle sales amid an expected global transition from the internal combustion engine to batteries.
Others see the meteoric rise as just plain crazy for a company that's never turned a full-year profit.
“It doesn't seem to be closely attached to reality,” said Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey.
Tesla sold only 367,500 vehicles last year, compared with millions at GM, Ford or Fiat Chrysler. GM alone sold 7.7 million, 21 times more than Tesla.
While the spectacular run-up in the stock has been attributed in part to rising profits and other encouraging signs from Tesla, it has been amplified, paradoxically, by the many investors who have been “shorting” the stock — that is, betting it would drop. As the stock goes up, these investors are losing money, so they try to limit their losses by rushing in to buy, driving the price even higher.