Pro Perspectives 1/28/21

January 28, 2021

The focus of the financial media over the past few days has been on the massive squeeze of the most heavily shorted stocks in the market. 

What happened today?  

The brokers stepped in to stop the insanity, putting restrictions on some of these stocks that had become targets for indiscriminate mob buying.  We'll see if there's any wounds in the brokerage industry, resulting from losses.  It's reported late this afternoon that Robinhood is drawing on credit lines.    

For the broader market, the action of the past few days may have cleared the shorts from many heavily shorted/short-seller targeted stocks, for a while.  As we discussed yesterday, in a world where asset prices are being explicity inflated by monetary and fiscal policy, this is not the environment to be betting against the nominal price of assets. 

With that, some of these stocks (definitely not all), have been unduly weighed down for years by short sellers (they've been targets).  This shake out creates opportunities for investors to start picking through some of these names for value opportunities, in a market where valuations have been running hot. 

If we look through a screen of $10 billion+ market cap stocks, with greater than 20% short interest, we have fourteen names.  If we take it down to $2 billion+ market cap, we find a lot of old-line retailers on the top of the highly shorted and “cheap” list (Big Lots, Michaels, Dick's, Camping World).