Musk Tweets Can't Save Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) From 'Autopilot' Struggles

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk is again defending his company via Twitter Inc (TWTR)

Jul 15, 2016 at 2:18 PM
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As usual, the Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) account of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk is making waves, as the tech wizard addresses concerns over the automaker's controversial self-driving technology. For starters, Musk tweeted that, according to log data, "Autopilot" was turned off on the Model X that crashed earlier this month in Pennsylvania. Separately, he said European Union (EU) regulators found no safety concerns with "Autopilot."

That doesn't mean the TSLA drama is over, though. In fact, a U.S. Senate committee has requested that the automaker brief its members on a fatal May 7 crash involving "Autopilot" technology.

Collectively, the news has TSLA stock down 0.7% at $220.01 on relatively weak volume, but it continues to consolidate atop its softly declining 60-day moving average. Longer term, the shares have charted a series of lower highs and lows since topping out in early April, and have surrendered over 8% on a year-to-date basis.

In the options pits, there's been extreme interest in TSLA lately, as reflected in present open interest levels -- which just hit an annual high, at 720,000-plus contracts. More specifically, the action has recently tilted toward the bearish side of the aisle, per data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Specifically, the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.08 ranks in the high 81st percentile of its annual range.

Others on the Street have taken a glass-half-empty approach, too, reflecting the stock's lackluster performance. Take, for instance, analysts -- 75% rate TSLA stock a "hold" or worse. On top of that, short interest has really been picking up, including an 8.1% increase in the most recent reporting period. In total, 29.5% of Tesla Motors Inc's (NASDAQ:TSLA) float is dedicated to short interest, or nearly a week's worth of buying activity, at typical volumes.

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