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Tesla Smokes Its Shorts

Rick Munarriz
June 13, 2013

Shares of Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) have cooled off in recent days, but the push that sent the stock price barreling into the triple digits late last month was more than enough to scare away a lot of skeptics.

There were 18.6 million shares of the fast-growing, electric-car maker sold short by the end of May. This may seem like a big number, but it's actually the smaller number of bearish bets placed on Tesla over the past year.

There were more than 30 million shares shorted back in February, just as Tesla was about to pull off a monstrous rally that's seen the stock nearly triple since then.

This isn't an industry thing. Folks looking to cash in on stock declines in the automotive sector haven't completely unclenched their jaws.

There were nearly 73 million shares of General Motors (NYSE: GM) sold short at the end of May, and that's close to its 52-week high. There were just 55 million shares of GM shorted a year earlier.

Bears have borrowed 67.2 million shares of Ford (NYSE: F) to short as of the end of May. That's a dramatic improvement from the nine-figure short interest that Ford was sporting through most of last year, but shorting interest had climbed every reporting period since bottoming out at 45.2 million by the end of January through mid-May.

GM and Ford aren't chopped liver. They are both thriving in the improving climate for automakers. GM is holding up so well that it was just reintroduce