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The Short Report

Weekly Reports | Oct 11 2018

Guide:

The Short Report draws upon data provided by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) to highlight significant weekly moves in short positions registered on stocks listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Short positions in exchange-traded funds (ETF) and non-ordinary shares are not included. Short positions below 5% are not included in the table below but may be noted in the accompanying text if deemed significant.

Please take note of the Important Information provided at the end of this report. Percentage UIKeyInputLeftArrowamounts in this report refer to percentage of ordinary shares on issue.

Stock codes highlighted in green have seen their short positions reduce in the week by an amount sufficient to move them into a lower percentage bracket. Stocks highlighted in red have seen their short positions increase in the week by an amount sufficient to move them into a higher percentage bracket. Moves in excess of one percentage point or more are discussed in the Movers & Shakers report below.

Summary:

Note: Last week's report erroneously cited plutonium as a by-product of rare earth mineral processing at Lynas Corp's plant in Malaysia. The by-products are uranium and thorium. FNArena apologises for the error.

Week ending October 4, 2018

Last week saw the ASX200 dip and recover before the whitewash we are now experiencing.

Movements in short positions were relatively modest last week with no move within the 5%-plus shorted table exceeding one percentage point. There are nevertheless a few stories we can highlight.

Shorts in funeral director InvoCare ((IVC)) ticked up only slightly but it was enough to take the stock into the 10%-plus club, just. Our cut-off for the week is October 4 and it was on October 5 the company issued a profit warning, bemoaning a benign flu season compared to last year and subsequent lack of departures.

I highlighted data centre operator NextDC ((NXT)) last week, which had shifted to 8.6% shorted from 7.2% following an earnings result which disappointed the market on new customer take-up, sending the stock southward. Last week NextDC shorts rose again, to 9.2%.

But subsequently, the company has moved to buy out the landlord of its original suite of metro centres, Asia Pacific Data Centres ((AJD)), and the share price has rallied right back up again.

Satellite operator Speedcast International ((SDA)) has not recovered any ground since falling to earth on a disappointing earnings result in late August. It has since been creeping up the table, last week moving to 7.3% from 6.5%.

And finally, we note accounting software firm MYOB ((MYO)) has been hanging around on the table for some time, last week at 7.0%, but this week received a takeover offer which saw the stock jump 19% on the day. Short-covering was no doubt in play.

We’ll keep an eye out in next week’s Report for pet-vet chain Greencross ((GXL)), which also became an M&A play this week after acknowledging more than one approach. Its share price jumped 18%, and last week it was 10.4% shorted.

No Movers & Shakers this week. 

Weekly short positions as a percentage of market cap:

10%+

JBH     19.7
ORE    16.8
SYR    16.3
GXY   16.1
ING     12.9
DMP   12.3
MTS    12.1
MYR   10.9
BWX   10.7
GXL    10.4
IVC     10.0

In: IVC           Out: GEM                                          

9.0-9.9

GEM, NEC, CSR, HVN, IFL, NWS, NXT, NUF

In: GEM, NXT, NUF             Out: IVC
                                                                                               
8.0-8.9%

SUL, NAN

Out: NXT, NUF, VOC, IGO

7.0-7.9%

AAC, IGO, SDA, PLS, MYO, VOC

In: IGO, VOC, SDA, MYO              

6.0-6.9%

KDR, BAL, MLX, RSG, FLT, HT1, MND, BIN, SEK, SIG

In: BAL                      Out: SDA, MYO, GMA, NWL

5.0-5.9%

LYC, MSB, GMA, BOQ, NWL, GNC, KAR, ALX, MOC, AMP, API, CQR, CAB, BKL, BLA, TNE

In: GMA, NWL         

Out: BAL, BEN

                
Movers & Shakers

See above.

ASX20 Short Positions (%)

To see the full Short Report, please go to this link

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THIS REPORT

The above information is sourced from daily reports published by the Australian Investment & Securities Commission (ASIC) and is provided by FNArena unqualified as a service to subscribers. FNArena would like to make it very clear that immediate assumptions cannot be drawn from the numbers alone.

It is wrong to assume that short percentages published by ASIC simply imply negative market positions held by fund managers or others looking to profit from a fall in respective share prices. While all or part of certain short percentages may indeed imply such, there are also a myriad of other reasons why a short position might be held which does not render that position "naked" given offsetting positions held elsewhere. Whatever balance of percentages truly is a "short" position would suggest there are negative views on a stock held by some in the market and also would suggest that were the news flow on that stock to turn suddenly positive, "short covering" may spark a short, sharp rally in that share price. However short positions held as an offset against another position may prove merely benign.

Often large short positions can be attributable to a listed hybrid security on the same stock where traders look to "strip out" the option value of the hybrid with offsetting listed option and stock positions. Short positions may form part of a short stock portfolio offsetting a long share price index (SPI) futures portfolio – a popular trade which seeks to exploit windows of opportunity when the SPI price trades at an overextended discount to fair value. Short positions may be held as a hedge by a broking house providing dividend reinvestment plan (DRP) underwriting services or other similar services. Short positions will occasionally need to be adopted by market makers in listed equity exchange traded fund products (EFT). All of the above are just some of the reasons why a short position may be held in a stock but can be considered benign in share price direction terms due to offsets.

Market makers in stock and stock index options will also hedge their portfolios using short positions where necessary. These delta hedges often form the other side of a client's long stock-long put option protection trade, or perhaps long stock-short call option ("buy-write") position. In a clear example of how published short percentages can be misleading, an options market maker may hold a short position below the implied delta hedge level and that actually implies a "long" position in that stock.

Another popular trading strategy is that of "pairs trading" in which one stock is held short against a long position in another stock. Such positions look to exploit perceived imbalances in the valuations of two stocks and imply a "net neutral" market position.

Aside from all the above reasons as to why it would be a potential misconception to draw simply conclusions on short percentages, there are even wider issues to consider. ASIC itself will admit that short position data is not an exact science given the onus on market participants to declare to their broker when positions truly are "short". Without any suggestion of deceit, there are always participants who are ignorant of the regulations. Discrepancies can also arise when short positions are held by a large investment banking operation offering multiple stock market services as well as proprietary trading activities. Such activity can introduce the possibility of either non-counting or double-counting when custodians are involved and beneficial ownership issues become unclear.

Finally, a simple fact is that the Australian Securities Exchange also keeps its own register of short positions. The figures provided by ASIC and by the ASX at any point do not necessarily correlate.

FNArena has offered this qualified explanation of the vagaries of short stock positions as a warning to subscribers not to jump to any conclusions or to make investment decisions based solely on these unqualified numbers. FNArena strongly suggests investors seek advice from their stock broker or financial adviser before acting upon any of the information provided herein.

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CHARTS

GXL IVC MYO NXT SDA