Tesla could see a 9% move higher or lower when it reports earnings

Tesla shares have been on a roller coaster ride the last few months, and investors should brace themselves for another big move when it reports earnings after the bell on Wednesday.

The stock, trading modestly lower on Wednesday, is sitting in a bear market; down more than 20 percent off its 2018 high, hit back in June. The sentiment from the options market is more bearish heading into earnings than in prior quarters, said Stacey Gilbert, head of derivative strategy at Susquehanna.

"If you look at that implied move, right now options is suggesting around a 9 percent average move. Let's look at this from historical context; on average over the last eight quarters, it's been closer to a 5 percent move, so that's certainly more a significant amount more of risk being priced in here," Gilbert said Tuesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

She added that, notably, it's likely to be one of the biggest moves the market is expecting to see from Tesla on an earnings report. Further out, options market activity is suggesting to Gilbert that investors have shifted to the more defensive move of buying protection on Tesla, rather than buying upside calls.

Investors may have reason to be cautious on the battleground stock.

Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, made unusual comments to analysts on the company's last earnings call, and has since stirred controversy for taking on short-sellers and members of the news media. At the same time, CNBC reported on Tuesday the company is taking urgent steps to meet production targets, a move Tesla said is not uncommon toward the end of the quarter.

When it comes to key levels on the chart, some say the stock could become attractive on a pullback. Bill Baruch, president of Blue Line Futures, told "Trading Nation" he'd keep an eye on the 200-day and 200-week moving averages and a trend-line that's been intact for about two years.

"I could love this stock down at $260 for a short period of time. I think that's where you need to be buying it, down at $260 against that trend-line. Now additionally, you have a 200-week moving average that aligns with that trend-line, which would ultimately signal that the market is going to continue this uptrend," Baruch said, adding that he'd look to about $320 per share as a level at which to sell.

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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.

Sara Eisen

Sara Eisen joined CNBC in December 2013 as a correspondent, focusing on the global consumer. She is co-anchor of the 10AM ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET), broadcast from Post 9 at the New York Stock Exchange.

In March 2018, Eisen was named co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F, 1PM-3PM ET), which broadcasts from CNBC Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

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