(Reuters) - Tesla Inc shares fell for a third straight day on Thursday, as investors who have been betting on the electric-car maker's growth prospects cashed in on the meteoric rally in the stock price this year.
Market analysts and traders called it a near-term profit-taking, triggered by the company's plan to raise $5 billion from the market and the stake sale by the second largest shareholder Baillie Gifford, in a stock that has surged fivefold in 2020.
They expect it to be short-lived. "It's just a poster child for the growth trade and there's a bit of general rotation," a London-based trader told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford told Herald Scotland the investment firm remains a "strong supporter" of Tesla, but had to sell its passive stake due to norms that limit the weight of a stock in clients' portfolios.
Gifford cut its stake to 4.25% compared to 7.67% as of Dec. 31, making it now the fourth largest stakeholder, according to Refinitiv data.
"I know Baillie Gifford were a kind of forced seller to stay within the mandates, but (an) evidence of core investor profit-taking as the company start a sell off of $5 billion stock," the trader said.
Ever since Tesla surprised Wall Street by delivering on Chief Executive Elon Musk's promise of a profit in its third quarter in October last year, its shares have risen nearly nine-fold.
The world's most valuable carmaker has gone on to register three more profitable quarters, clearing a hurdle that could lead to its inclusion in the benchmark S&P 500 index.
The index rebalances every quarter, but a stock can be added to the index at any point once a company becomes eligible for consideration.
Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, declined to comment on potential index membership changes.
The surge in shares during the COVID-19 pandemic have also led Tesla and Apple Inc to split their richly priced stock.
The iPhone maker's shares, which have jumped more than 35% since it announced its split, fell for the second session, down 5.2%, while Tesla shares were down 6.5% in early trading on Thursday.
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Thyagaraju Adinarayan in London; Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)