Tesla Options Hint at Trouble Ahead With Bets Around $200 Golie Mark

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. was one of the biggest laggards in the S&P 500 Index on Monday, and options traders are betting the stock could drop further before the weekend.

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A put contract with a Friday expiration and a strike price of $200 was the most-traded contract for Tesla on Monday and among the 15-most popular on US exchanges overall during the day. The bearish option in the electric carmaker implies the stock has at least another 5% to fall this week.

Tesla closed near $211 on Monday, down 1.5% from Friday’s close after lowering prices across its lineup in China and options investors are betting shares could fall below $200 by Friday, making the $200 put contract in the money — or available for immediate profit — before expiration.

The price of the contract jumped as much as 249% on Monday before settling only 9.9% higher as Tesla’s drop abated. Some 145,000 of the contracts changed hands.

Tesla shares have been on a dizzying roller-coaster ride this year, as jumpy investors reacted to a wide array of both positive and negative news — ranging from supply problems, demand concerns, production disruptions in China, a cash-strapped consumer and the looming global recession, to the promise of a big boost to the EV industry from the Biden adminstration’s climate act.

Overall though, the bad news has started to overshadow the good, reflected in the stock’s 40% decline this year, compared to the S&P 500 Index’s 20% drop over the same period. A three-for-one stock split, effective since late August, failed to deliver the expected boost despite Tesla’s popularity with mom-and-pop investors, while Elon Musk’s pending deal to buy social-media platform Twitter Inc. continues to be a drag on the EV maker’s share price.

(Updates prices throughout.)

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