What happened

Priced at a low, low $17 a share during their initial public offering two weeks ago, but rising steadily since then, shares of "physics-based" software maker Schrodinger (SDGR -0.61%) went on an absolute tear Thursday. They closed up 33.3%, at a new high of $47.62 per share.

Believe it or not, you can thank famed short-seller Citron Research for that.

Man on cartoon scooter rides an arrow upward

Is this stock really the next Tesla? Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Better known for its short attacks on tech companies such as SolarEdge and Enphase Energy, Citron took a bullish turn on Thursday. It sang the praises of new IPO Schrodinger, which uses software to research novel molecules for use in drug development, in a note covered by TheFly.com.

Comparing Schrodinger to Tesla, which many investors consider more of a high-growth software company than a car company, Citron argued that the similarities are "too obvious to ignore." On the one hand, Tesla is disrupting the automotive market with its sales of long-range, clean-energy electric cars. On the other hand, Schrodinger is "expediting the drug development process through software that advances chemistry beyond limits ever imagined."

Peering into the future, Citron predicts that Wall Street analysts will "quickly rerate Schrodinger shares much higher," and so it assigned Schrodinger a price target of $80 -- more than twice what the shares cost at yesterday's close.

Now what

And thanks to Citron's note, investors are already moving in that direction.

Granted, there are other similarities between the two companies. Tesla stock hasn't earned a full-year profit yet; neither has Schrodinger. (And before you object that it's been on the public markets for less than a month, let me point out: Schrodinger has been in business since 1990. That's 30 years ago.)

Some dissimilarities are also striking. Over the past two years, Tesla's sales have more than doubled. But Schrodinger's sales are up a less-impressive 38%.

Whether in the end you decide this stock is "the next Tesla," or not, one thing's for certain: Schrodinger shares certainly stepped on the gas pedal today.