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No models for sale here, but small investors in India are piling into Tesla stock

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian retail investors increasingly buying U.S. stocks have been drawn to a company that has so far had no presence in India: electric carmaker Tesla Inc.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk dances on stage during a delivery event for Tesla’s China-made Model 3 cars in Shanghai, China, January 7, 2020. Reuters/Aly Song

Indians are betting more than ever on U.S. stocks this year as they recover faster than markets in India and other emerging countries following the crash triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

While companies with significant presence in India such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook are popular among Indian investors investing in U.S. stocks, brokerage data shows Tesla has emerged as the new favorite.

Indian brokerage Vested Finance said its accounts held $2.5 million worth of Tesla shares in November, compared with just $76,000 at the end of March. Another brokerage, Stockal, said its clients quadrupled their holdings of Tesla shares to $10 million during that period.

Tesla shares have soared around 450% in that time.

“Some investors have just created accounts where they can invest in Tesla,” said Vested CEO Viram Shah. “We never imagined that a company that doesn’t even have a presence in India would be the most popular.”

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said the stock was about to list in India, sparking a frenzy over the stock. Musk tweeted in October that the electric carmaker would “definitely be next year” in India, tweeting earlier about a 2020 launch.

While Musk has previously expressed concern about high import tariffs in India, Tesla’s planned launch comes at a time when India is beginning to focus on promoting the use of electric vehicles.

Gaurav Jhunjhunwala, 33, became a fan of Musk after reading his biography and even paid a $1,000 reservation fee for Tesla’s Model 3 electric sedan when it went on sale in India. While the wait was long, he invested $100,000 in Tesla stock in May and bought 30 shares every other week.

“I just love the way this guy (Musk) thinks,” Jhunjhunwala said. “He’s trying to make the world a better place.”

Reporting by Abhilap Roy; Editing by Aditya Kalra and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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