Millions of taxpayer dollars subsidized the company and some key electric vehicle part suppliers. I'm not a fan of centralized planning or the government picking winners and losers.
Some will claim the taxpayer money was a good investment if Tesla eventually becomes self-sustaining. That's equivalent to your friend coming back from Vegas bragging about the $10,000 slot machine jackpot. What the friend almost nevers tell you is he or she spent $20,000 to win it. Not only is the path to successful government subsidies paved with the sweat and toil from productive taxpayers, it's insulting.
United States is a world leader in free-flowing capital markets. Does anyone still genuinely believe people with nothing to lose and no skin in the game are able to allocate resources better than those who own the capital? The only winners are government bureaucrats who maintain their high-paying government jobs by touting the "$10,000 slot wins" as their rationale for collecting a paycheck.
With that said, I hope Telsa is successful enough that the cars are exported and the company helps to grow the economy. We will never know if Tesla could have been successful without taxpayer money, and that's a real shame because it leaves room for doubt in the ability of American companies to succeed on their own.
For now, the real question that needs addressing is whether or not Telsa is a smart investment.
Everyone loves a short squeeze -- well everyone except short sellers. More than one neck snapped during the last few trading days in Tesla as America's newest automaker burned rubber from $56 to an intraday top of $87 a share in under a week.
What makes Tesla especially intriguing is the massive short interest at almost 50% of the float. You just can't reach a short interest level that high in a multi-billion-dollar company unless the brightest on Wall Street think a given stock is overpriced and will soon depreciate considerably.
However, just because a hedge fund manager is among the brightest on Wall Street, doesn't mean he or she always get it right. This is especially true during wild short-term swings, as demonstrated in Tesla's recent trading sessions. However, a short-seller's mistake doesn't necessarily equate a terrific buy for an investor.
If you're quick on the trigger or willing to accept gigantic volatility, you can profit from short squeezes. Otherwise, more often than not they become money losers for short sellers and investors alike. Short sellers buy to cover to lock in gains or stop losses, and late to the show momentum buyers can wind up buying at the top of the move. Look at the volume of the 30-minute bars in Tesla and you can see that the majority of volume for Thursday and Friday occurred during spikes followed by weakness.
Another great example of a recent short squeeze is First Solar .
In early April, First Solar's shares spiked higher from a short squeeze. Looking at the 30-minute bars on the chart, it becomes clear that chasing the stock only works if you're exceptionally fast at exiting or if you're lucky and the stock has follow-through you hold through retracements. The buyers who waited until the next day to buy First Solar saved over $2 a share.
If you want to buy Tesla as an investment, make certain you're buying on a dip. Consider selling a relative number of put options to collect on the high volatility, too. Don't let the price action enthusiasm to overcome sound logic. Otherwise, you may have the keys to an investment that has lost before it crosses the starting line.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.