TOKYO/SEOUL: Shares of Tesla Inc surged 15per cent on Tuesday to hit the US$900 mark, extending a stunning rally that has more than doubled the company's market value since the start of the year as more investors bet on Chief Executive Elon Musk's vision.
The latest surge was partly fuelled by Panasonic Corp saying on Monday its automotive battery venture with Tesla was in the black for the first time.
Some analysts have attributed the rally to short covering as well. Short interest in Tesla stood at 13.8per cent as of Jan. 30, according to Refinitiv data.
Shares of heavily shorted companies can at times get pushed higher as traders rush to buy stock to cover their short bets, triggering what is known as a "short squeeze".
Panasonic shares closed up 10per cent, while those of Tesla's Asian suppliers South Korea's LG Chem Ltd and China's CATL also closed higher.
"Investors are now starting to believe that Tesla can make mass-volume electric vehicles, and automakers, battery makers and suppliers can make money from EVs," said analyst Cho Hyun-ryul, at Samsung Securities.
Tesla last week reported strong vehicle delivery numbers, a second consecutive quarterly profit and said it would comfortably make more than half a million vehicles this year.
Billionaire investor Ron Baron, whose firm holds a nearly 1per cent stake in Tesla, says he will not be selling a single Tesla share, adding he believes the carmaker could hit US$1 trillion in revenue in 10 years.
Tesla reported revenue of US$24.6 billion in 2019.
Panasonic also said it was expanding production to keep pace with demand from Tesla, indicating the U.S. company was finally getting ahead of battery production bottlenecks it flagged last April. The daily percentage gain was the stock's biggest in about four years.
Shares rose 10per cent in LG Chem and CATL, both of which signed battery-making deals with Tesla last week, ending the automaker's exclusive partnership with Panasonic.
Shares of fellow EV battery makers SK Innovation Co Ltd and Samsung SDI Co Ltd rose 4.5per cent and 9per cent, respectively.
POSCO Chemical Co Ltd, which recently signed a US$1.6 billion deal to supply battery-making materials to LG Chem, rose 4.6per cent.
Panasonic said on Monday it expects to stabilise profit at Tesla's Gigafactory by next year, and that there is a lot of room to improve production efficiency for what is an EV's most expensive component, accounting for about a third of total cost.
The firm is also gearing up to mitigate the loss of the exclusive Tesla partnership by setting up a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp to develop a type of EV battery that the pair plan to sell to any automaker.
"When you look back, say two to three years ago, there were doubts about whether the EV era would arrive," said analyst Kang Dong-jin at Hyundai Investment & Securities in Seoul.
"But now there is more viability about the sector thanks to Tesla's strong sales and Europe's tougher emissions regulations," he said.
The European Union introduced tighter emission rules after Volkswagen AG said it had cheated diesel pollution tests. Britain on Tuesday will announce a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, five years earlier than previously planned.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo and Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Additional reporting by Chris Gallagher in Tokyo and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Sayantani Ghosh and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)