Will Tesla’s Stock Hold Up Past Lockup?

Tesla Motors (TSLA) comes off lockup Monday. Shares available for trading will triple Monday. Typically a potent IPO will fall, as venture investors take profits.

In this case, the funds hold such a large position, they may make a year-end distribution of Tesla stock rather than rushing to sell, leaving it up to the limited partners’ to decide to hold or sell, which might smooth out and delay profit-taking.

VentureBeat, which supplied this IPO photo, does a nice assessment of the lockup risk to the stock. Most telling Tesla has attracted a large short interest. The GM IPO drove up short interest, and it hit 22:1 at the end of October right before an earnings report. Right now the short interest expects a drop, and an informal poll of venture capitalists found the highest they expected Tesla to settle was at $18, a huge drop from its current price above $30. Grinches all!

Tesla has defied the skeptics. The stock popped after the IPO then fell below the offering price, but unlike another high-profile cleantech IPO, A123, Tesla then climbed back up and recently got to new highs. Tesla has scored great deals with Mercedes, Toyota (TM) and Panasonic (PC) (for batteries), buoying its prospects both as a business and a potential acquisition. It expects to unveil its next car in the January Detroit Auto Show.

In the slow Santa trading period, Tesla is the stock to watch.

Disclosure: I have a small indirect interest in Tesla

About Duncan Davidson 228 Articles

Affiliation: NetService Ventures

Duncan is an advisor to NetService Ventures, where he focuses on digital media and the mobile Internet.

Previously he was at four start-ups: Xumii, a mobile social service based on a Social Addressbook; SkyPilot Networks, the performance leader of wireless mesh systems for last-mile access, where he was the founding CEO; Covad Communications (Amex: DVW, $9B market cap at the peak), the leading independent DSL access provider, where he was the founding Chairman; InterTrust Technologies ($9B market cap at the peak), the pioneer in digital rights management technologies, now owned by Sony and Philips, where he was SVP Business Development and the pitchman for the IPO.

Before these ventures, Duncan was a partner at Cambridge Venture Partners, an early-stage venture firm, and managing partner of Gemini McKenna, a joint venture between Regis McKenna's marketing firm and Gemini Consulting, the global management consulting arm of Cap Gemini.

He serves on the board or is an adviser to Aggregate Knowledge (content discovery), Livescribe (digital pen), AllVoices (citizen journalism), Xumii (mobile social addressbook), Verismo (Internet settop box), and Widevine (DRM for IPTV).

Visit: Duncan Davidson's Blogs

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