Inside money, markets, and big tech

This penny stock with a ticker almost identical to Tesla is up 300% this year

$TSLA vs $TLSA: A tale of two tickers

Some investors eager to cash in on Tesla‘s incredible rise seem to be buying the wrong stock. Tiziana Life Sciences, a tiny biotech firm with a ticker almost identical to Elon Musk’s car company, has miraculously pumped by 300% this year without generating any revenue at all.

Tiziana Life Sciences, which trades under the $TLSA ticker, reportedly has no sales and just one analyst covering the company. Still, armed with a handful of press releases announcing partnerships with largely unknown biotech plays, its stock has somehow jumped from $2.80 to almost $11.

Prices at their daily peak, chart made with Flourish.

[Watch Tesla’s meteoric rise — set to techno-remixed Elon Musk tweets]

According to the company‘s latest financial statements, it’s a loss-making venture without any revenue streams. Finance mag Barron’s reasoned that some people have been duped; mistakenly invested in the wrong company, having intended to buy Tesla stock, which trades under $TSLA.

Stock ticker confusion summoned the SEC

In fact, what’s happening with Tiziana’s stock echoes a situation from earlier this year when the SEC suspended trade in Zoom Technologies, a mostly defunct telecoms firm entirely unrelated to the video conferencing darling Zoom Video.

Just like Tiziana and Tesla, Zoom Technologies’ ticker ($ZOOM) confusingly resembled Zoom Video’s ($ZM). The stark similarity led a raft of investors to accidentally buy stakes in the wrong company  a problem that had persisted since Zoom Video went public in April 2019.

$ZOOM would go on to peak at $60 in March, which put it up 4900% since the start of 2020.

Prices at their daily peak, chart made with Flourish.

Zoom Technologies eventually adopted a different ticker ($ZTNO), and its stock has since returned to levels well below any point this year.

As for Tizinia  it seems to be holding onto its peculiar growth, at least for now.

So, a warning to keen investors looking to buy stock: always double (and triple) check that you’re buying the right one.

Published July 17, 2020 — 15:30 UTC