Short interest figures for the middle of March were released late last week, and yesterday we sent out our regular update of short interest levels to clients.  One table included in the report, which we have provided below, is a list of the most heavily shorted stocks in the S&P 1500 based on short interest as a percentage of float (SIPF).  Despite the fact that the market has been in a strong rally and short interest levels have seen a modest decline, the list of the most heavily shorted stocks has actually grown in each of the last two updates.  As of mid-March, 49 stocks now have more than a quarter of their free-floating shares sold short.

At the top of the current list is Cal-Maine Foods (CALM), which is a producer of eggs.  Through 3/15, more than 60% of the stock’s float was sold short, and while the stock hasn’t done much this March, YTD it has seen a gain of 18%, so this trade hasn’t quite worked out for the shorts.  Within the S&P 500, Transocean has the highest SIPF level at 37.7%.  On a collective basis, March hasn’t been a particularly good month for short-sellers.  Of the 49 stocks highlighted below, the average MTD return through Monday’s close was a gain of 10.5% (median: +6.86%), which is nearly twice the gain of the S&P 1500 (5.47%).  In terms of breadth, the vast majority of names (35) have seen gains, and some have been big.  In fact, 19 of the 49 stocks listed below are up over 10% this month and six of those are up over 50%!  That compares to just eight stocks that are down more than 10%.

Finally, in terms of market cap and sector breakdowns, there was little in the way of surprises.  The vast majority of the stocks on the current list are small caps (35), with just nine stocks from the S&P 400 Mid Cap Index, and only five large-cap S&P 500 stocks.  In terms of sector representation, nearly a third (16) of the stocks come from the Energy sector, while Consumer Discretionary has the second most number of stocks at 13.

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