As Tesla hits the skids, one market watcher sees a ‘line in the sand’ for investors

Production setbacks, car crashes and wary analysts have put the Tesla faithful on alert.

While a few key levels are holding the stock together, any more pain might push investors to their breaking point, according to one market watcher.

"It has two key support levels that we're watching," Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Tuesday. "First was the $285 level. That had been the double-top high from 2014 and 2015 and once it got above that, that became new support."

Tesla shares closed below $285 on Tuesday for the first time since May 3. The automaker first slipped below that level this year during intraday trading in late March.

"Now that we're breaking below that, that's creating some problems, so we got to watch out. It could be a quick move back down to its $250 level. That was the low back in March," said Maley. "That's the kind of line in the sand — investors are going to get really concerned. A lot of the momentum money is going to leave the stock if you break below that level."

Tesla stock dipped below $250 for a few sessions in late March, but quickly recovered to trade above $280 through most of April.

Tesla could also face more trouble with its balance sheet, according to Dennis Davitt, partner at Harvest Volatility Management.

"The issue around Tesla is it does have a lot of debt," Davitt said on Tuesday's "Trading Nation." "We're seeing interest rates go higher. Then they need to service that debt at higher rates. That could have a much bigger impact on earnings."

Tesla held more than $10 billion in long-term debt on its balance sheet by the end of March. It has not posted a quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2016.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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