By Lewis Krauskopf
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Tesla Inc short sellers were getting a reprieve on Monday, with the stock edging lower as investors braced for chief Elon Musk to sell some of his stake, but it has been a rough year for those betting against the electric car maker's share price.
So far in 2021, short sellers in Tesla - the biggest short in the stock market - have endured $14.2 billion in realized and unrealized losses, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners. As of Monday morning, with Tesla shares down nearly 3%, short sellers were up $1.04 billion in such mark-to-market profits on the day, according to S3.
Even with Monday's decline, Tesla shares have soared about 68% so far this year, leading short sellers to scramble and cover their positions.
The number of Tesla shares shorted stood at 29.5 million, down from 60.6 million at the start of January, S3 said. The short position in Tesla as a percentage of the company's float is down to 3.6% from about 8% at the start of the year.
Still, Tesla's short interest, a measure of the stock's price and number of shares shorted, amounted to nearly $36.1 billion, Dusaniwsky said. That is more than any other stock and twice as large as the next-largest short - Amazon.com Inc at $17.6 billion, according to S3.
Monday's fall for Tesla shares came after Musk's proposed sale of about a tenth of his holdings in the electric-car maker following his Twitter poll.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New YorkEditing by Matthew Lewis)