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Jim Chanos says he’s still shorting Tesla as EV competition increases, profit margin peaks

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Famed short seller Jim Chanos said Monday he’s still betting against Tesla as competition in the electric vehicle market ramps up. “I just think that that it’s really that the choices now are increasing,” Chanos said on CNBC’s ” Fast Money ” in Miami Monday. “The bears were wrong on competition. It took a long time to show up, but I don’t think they’re wrong now. I think the competition is growing.” The founder of Chanos & Co. said that investors often forget that the carmaker lost money through 2019 manufacturing cars in the U.S., and it wasn’t until Tesla opened the Shanghai factory that it saw its margins take off. However, China is now the weakest market for Tesla, Chanos said. “You’re in a cyclical business and his margins, which peaked out in the high 20s, are now heading we think into the high teens where they were before they opened China,” Chanos said of the EV maker helmed by Elon Musk. Tesla’s December sales of China-made cars fell to the lowest in five months in December as most production at the Shanghai plant was suspended due to an upgrade to its production lines. The short seller has betting against and trading around the EV player for several years. The stock lost 65% last year in the face of rising rates and Musk’s $44 billion Twitter takeover, but it has rebounded 35% this year alone. TSLA 1Y mountain Tesla “They’re wrestling with some issues, and the stock is still at almost $550 billion market cap is trading now at 20-some times gross profits,” Chanos said. “It trades at a premium … actually trades at a premium in terms of its multiples to Ferrari and Porsche.” Chanos said Tesla has a major footprint in China, generating a significant amount of profits in the developing country. And it’s also a source of many risks, he said. “You have repatriation of capital risk. You have BYD and others just taking massive market share,” Chanos said. “Tesla trades at a premium to those companies who are growing faster than they are in China. So if you want to play all these things, there are now lots of ways to do it.” Tesla has a number of challengers in China, including a slew of start-ups such as Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto. Its biggest rival in China right now is BYD. The firm also cut the prices of its cars in China in 2022, amid a tough macroeconomic environment and softening consumer demand.

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