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The Short Report

Weekly Reports | Jun 06 2019


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 amounts 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.


Week ending May 30, 2019

Last week saw the gloss come off the election/APRA/RBA story as focus returned to the macro and trade wars, starting a pullback for the ASX200.

Not a lot of action last week in short positions until we get to the bottom of the table, where we note no less than six stocks crossed over into the 5% plus range for either the first time or a return visit.

They are debt retrievers Collection House ((CLH)), oil & gas company Senex Energy ((SXY)), outdoor advertiser oOh!media ((OML)), lithium/iron ore miner and mineral processor Mineral Resources ((MIN)), which several years ago resided for a very long period at the top of the table, plus travel agents Corporate Travel Management ((CTD)) and Flight Centre ((FLT)).

Not a lot of correlation.

Two stocks saw short potions movements of one percentage point or more last week. Domino’s Pizza ((DMP)) shorts rose to 9.5% from 8.3% and Costa Group ((CGC)) returned to the table at 6.8% from below 5%.

See below. 

Weekly short positions as a percentage of market cap:

ING     17.6
SYR    16.8
JBH     15.9
NUF    15.6
NXT    15.1
GXY   14.6
BAL    14.5
ORE    13.7
BWX   11.7
BIN     11.4
MTS    11.1
SDA    10.0
IFL      10.1

Out: IFL                     



In: IFL, DMP              Out: BKL       


In: BKL                      Out: DMP                              



No Changes



In: CGC, RSG, GMA             Out: MSB



Movers & Shakers

Domino’s Pizza provided an update two weeks ago and brokers have since mulled over signs of slowing same-store sales growth and fewer store openings ahead. Last week Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to Equal-weight to leave only one Buy rating among four Holds and three Sells in the FNArena database.

Macquarie retains Outperform, having faith in growth in Japan, but the broker has not updated its view since April so that one probably comes with an asterisk. Domino Pizza’s shorts have risen to 9.5% from 8.3%.

Fruit & veg grower Costa Group also updated the market last week, posting a major profit warning. May brought a litany of disaster for the company, which suffered everything from adverse weather to spoilt fruit and fruit fly across its global network. The share price promptly fell -30%.

The fact Costa seemed to be a do-no-wrong company prior to successive warnings suggests the stock had become overbought by overenthusiastic investors. Macquarie pulled its rating back to Neutral but Morgans upgraded to Add on the share price fall to join three other database brokers with Buy ratings.

It was probably blueberries all round at Ord Minnett, who downgraded to stock to Lighten in February.

ASX20 Short Positions (%)

Code Last Week Week Before Code Last Week Week Before
AMC 7.5 7.8 RIO 4.9 4.5
ANZ 0.8 0.8 S32 0.8 1.0
BHP 3.2 3.3 SCP 0.9 1.0
BXB 0.3 0.2 SUN 0.3 0.3
CBA 1.4 1.4 TCL 1.1 1.3
COL 1.4 1.4 TLS 0.6 0.5
CSL 0.4 0.2 WBC 1.7 1.8
IAG 0.6 0.8 WES 1.9 1.9
MQG 0.6 0.6 WOW 2.1 2.6
NAB 0.9 0.8 WPL 0.6 0.7

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


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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