Estimated short position in Bed Bath & Beyond up for the second week; Virgin Galactic shorts retreat again
Welcome to this week’s installment of “The Short Interest Report" - The Fly's weekly recap of short interest trends among some of the most widely followed high-short-float stocks. Using the data from our partner Ortex.com, which utilizes the latest information from stock lenders to estimate short interest changes for thousands of publicly traded companies, this report will screen for some of biggest changes in short interest as a percentage of free float and days-to-cover ratios while also considering the short interest data on some of the more volatile and heavier-traded names of the week. Based on the availability of data from Ortex, the report tracks the trading period that covers prior Friday through Thursday of this week. As a basis of comparison for stocks discussed below, the S&P 500 index was down 2.4%, the Russell 2000 index was down 1.0%, the Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) was down 3.0%, and the Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) was down 1.8% in the period range.
SHORT INTEREST GAINERS
Estimated short interest in Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY) was up for the second straight period this week after reaching a 6-week low in late February. The short position as a percentage of free float was up four points to 33% and now sits just one point away from a multi-month high. The stock was especially volatile early on, nearly doubling on Monday’s open in response to the news of an activist stake from RC Ventures before paring much of that gain. In the five-day period covered through Thursday, Bed Bath and Beyond shares ended up 25%.
Bears increased their exposure to Stitch Fix (SFIX) earlier this week heading into the company's Q2 earnings report as estimated short interest rose three percentage points from a one-month low to 21%. But while Stitch Fix did in fact disappoint with below-consensus Q3 guidance, prompting downgrades from Truist and Telsey, investors appear to be far more willing to buy the dips on market-up days. In the five-day period covered through Thursday, Stitch Fix was down just 1.9% before Friday’s 10% fall.
Estimated short interest in Stoke Therapeutics (STOK) saw the biggest relative increase in our screen, rising nine percentage points to 35%, a six-week high. Despite the increased short-seller appetite however, Stoke shares traded higher heading into the company’s in-line Q4 earnings report on Thursday and closed higher by 7.2% in the five-day period covered.
Shares of Dillard’s (DDS) have outperformed the Department Store peers in the five-day period through Thursday, rising 2.3% against mid-single digit declines at Macy’s (M), Kohls (KSS), and Nordstrom (JWN), even though short-sellers are turning more active on the name. Estimated short interest as a percentage of free float on Dillard's bottomed at a five-month low of 33.4% on Monday, but rose to 42% by Thursday. Days-to-cover ratio on the stock also tracked higher by 8% to 5.0.
Following a late-December spike, the estimated short-interest in Paymentus (PAY) had tracked in a narrow five-point range just under 22% for the past two months. This week has seen a more pronounced uptick however, as the estimated short position in the company rose from 18.5% to 23%. Similarly, the stock price had also seemingly found a floor around $20 following its post-earnings rout in mid-February before some heavier selling to close the week. In the five-day period through Thursday, Paymentus fell 2% and then slid another 4% on Friday to multi-month lows.
SHORT INTEREST DECLINERS
Estimated short interest in Virgin Galactic (SPCE) had reached a nine-month high just under 30% of free float in late February in the wake of the company’s Q4 results, but it has since retreated for the past two weeks, sliding another five percentage points this week to 23%. Although the company appears to have moved past its operational delays with last month’s announcement of ticket sales dates, investors remain indifferent at best, with Virgin Galactic shares hitting a new all-time low this Tuesday and ending our five-day period covered down 8.2%.
Short interest as a percentage of free float in Tanger Factory Outlet (SKT) hit a two-month high on February 10th but has since seen a steady decline of four consecutive weeks, slipping another two and a half percentage points to 12.5% - the lowest level in years. Days to cover on the name was also down by 15% to 10.1. Trading volumes in Tanger were more lively on Monday and Tuesday of this week, though the stock was little changed in our five-day period covered.
Keywords: Short selling, short interest, days to cover, securities, lending, utilization, sentiment analysis, AMC, GameStop, Bed Bath Beyond, Stitch Fix, Stoke Therapeutics, Dillards, Paymentus, Virgin Galactic, Tanger