Short interest numbers as of the end of February were released yesterday.  In aggregate across all Russell 3,000 stocks, short interest as a percent of float came in at 3.21%, down from 3.6% at the start of the year. In the table below, we show the 25 stocks in the Russell 3,000 that currently have the highest short interest as a percent of float.  Topping the list is Academy Sports and Outdoors (ASO) with 40.6% of shares shorted; unchanged in its ranking from the last report for the period ending February 12th. While it is still the most heavily shorted name in the index, ASO did see short interest as a percent of float fall 1.25 percentage points since the last report, and it is down even more considerably since the start of the year given its over 20% rally in that time. Including ASO, 13 of the top 25 most shorted stocks have lower short interest than they did in the last report. Of these, GameStop (GME) has seen the largest decline. GME has been on another massive rally over the past couple of weeks which has left the stock within 16.5% of its January closing highs.  With that rally likely causing some shorts to close out their positions, the stock has seen a 6.36 percentage point drop in short interest as a percent of float in the most recent period, though, it remains one of the most heavily shorted stocks. Conversely, GEO Group (GEO) and Solid Biosciences (SLDB) are the two stocks in the top 25 that have seen short interest rise the most since the last report and YTD.  For SLDB, the increase in short interest comes on what have been big gains year to date (+39.84%) while GEO has actually fallen double digits this year.

Not only has SLDB seen the biggest uptick in short interest among the most heavily shorted stocks, but it is also the stock that has seen the biggest increase of the entire index.  In the table below, we show the Russell 3,000 stocks that have seen the biggest increase/decrease in short interest as a percent of float since the last report in mid-February.  Other than SLDB, no other name saw a double-digit increase from the previous report with the next largest increase coming from Workhorse Group (WKHS) which saw short interest as a percent of float rise 8.4 percentage points.  While WKHS saw higher short interest from the last report, the stock is still less heavily bet against than it was at the start of the year. Of the 20 stocks to see the biggest increases, WKHS is the only one that this applies to.

As for the stocks that have seen the biggest declines in short interest, there are three that fell by more than 10 percentage points: Corbus Pharma (BRBP), Dillard’s (DDS), and Kymera Therapeutics (KYMR). It should come as no surprise that once again, GME is not much further down this list with its 6.36 percentage point drop in short interest. On a year-to-date basis, GME is also the stock that has seen the biggest decline in short interest. Dillard’s (DDS), BigCommerce (BIGC), and Ligand Pharma (LGND)—all of which saw some of the biggest declines since the last report—are the runners-up in terms of YTD declines each having seen short interest fall by over 50 percentage points.

Looking across the names in the tables above, one industry group pops up more than any other: the Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, and Life Sciences industry. Of the 25 most heavily shorted names, 7 stocks are part of this industry. Meanwhile, of the 20 stocks that have seen short interest increase the most since the last report, 11 are from this industry, though, even 8 of the 20 biggest decliners also belong to the Pharma, Biotech, & Life Sciences industry.

Given this, on an aggregate basis, this industry has the highest short interest as a percent of float; up 6 bps from the last report to 5.46%.  That replaces Retailing in the number one spot of the most heavily shorted industry groups. Further, the massive amount of short interest in retail names has appeared to have normalized.  Whereas the industry came into the year with over 8% of float shorted, the current reading has fallen down to 5.36%. Similarly, Energy and Transportation stocks have seen aggregate short interest as a percent of float fall by more than 1 percentage point since the start of the year.   Not everything has seen short interest decline though.  Food, Beverage, & Tobacco, Household & Personal Products, Banks, and Insurance have all seen short interest rise since the start of the year.  Since the last report, Food & Staples Retailing, Commercial & Professional Services, and Insurance all have seen the biggest upticks in short interest.  Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options for our best research available.

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