Tesla to see unprecedented trade ahead of S&P 500 debut

Tesla to see unprecedented trade ahead of S&P 500 debut

The company's shares climbed about 2% before the bell

Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Credit: AFP

Tesla's grand entrance into the S&P 500 is expected to be preceded by a huge trade, with an unprecedented $80 billion of the electric car maker's stock changing hands by the end of the session on Friday.

Elon Musk's Tesla on Monday will become the most valuable company ever admitted to Wall Street's main benchmark, accounting for over 1% of the index. The electric-car maker's shares have surged about 60% since mid-November when its debut in the S&P 500 was announced.

The company's shares climbed about 2% before the bell and were among the most actively traded stocks across U.S. exchanges, with about 1.9 million shares changing hands by 9:00 a.m. ET.

Tesla's addition to the S&P 500 forced index-tracking funds to buy over $80 billion worth of Tesla shares by the end of Friday's session so their portfolios correctly reflect the index, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Those funds will simultaneously have to sell other S&P 500 constituents' shares worth the same amount.

"Index managers will need to sell a large position across the other S&P 500 constituents in order to fund the addition of TSLA, which could lead to substantial impact across the entire index," Virtu ITG Canada's head of index research, Ivan Cajic, wrote in a report this week.

Actively managed funds that benchmark their performance against the S&P 500, many of which until now have avoided investing in one of Wall Street's most controversial stocks, will also be forced to decide whether to own Tesla.

While some investors view Musk as a visionary entrepreneur, others worry about missed production targets and corporate governance risk after Musk was forced to step down as chairman to settle fraud charges in 2018.

California-based Tesla’s stock has surged almost 700% year-to-date, putting its stock market value at over $600 billion and making it the sixth most valuable publicly listed U.S. company, with many investors viewing it as wildly overvalued.

Tesla’s meteoric rise has made it the most valuable auto company in the world despite production that is a fraction of rivals such as Toyota Motor, Volkswagen and General Motors.

Tesla is by far the most traded stock by value on Wall Street, with $18 billion worth of its shares exchanged on average in each session over the past 12 months, easily beating Apple, in second place with average daily trades of $14 billion, according to Refinitiv.

A blockbuster quarterly report in July cleared a major hurdle related to profitability that had prevented Tesla's inclusion in the S&P 500.

About a fifth of Tesla's shares are closely held by Musk, the chief executive, and other insiders. Since the S&P 500 is weighted by the amount of companies' shares actually available on the stock market, Tesla's influence within the benchmark will be slightly diminished compared to its overall value.