Short interest figures for the middle of February were released after the close last night, and we just sent out our regular update of the release to Bespoke Premium and Institutional clients. Be sure to check it out by signing up for a Bespoke Premium membership, because the latest data is full of interesting trends. In the table below, we have provided a list of the 25 S&P 1500 stocks with the highest short interest as a percentage of float (SIPF). All 25 stocks listed have more than 30% of their free-floating shares sold short. To see this many stocks with so much of their free-floating shares sold short is a bit of a surprise given the market is trading at all-time highs, but maybe the shorts know something the rest of the market doesn’t.
Overall, the average February performance of the 25 stocks shown is a decline of 0.19%, which is pretty bad given the strength we have seen in the broader market. However, much of the weakness is confined to two stocks, as both Tidewater (TDW) and Hornbeck Offshore (HOS) have lost more than a third of their value. On a median basis, the returns are much more respectable at a gain of 2.63%, but that’s still more than a full percentage point behind the performance of the S&P 1500.
Finally, while a lot of the stocks listed aren’t household names, one trend that stands out is the large presence of retailers. Of the 25 names listed, seven are retailers of some sort or another. Given the pressure this group has been under, that’s not a surprise. What is surprising, though, is that some of these names like RH (formerly Restoration Hardware), Shake Shack (SHAK), and Big Lots (BIG) are actually up on the month.