Investors, primarily hedge funds, borrowed close to eight per cent of Next’s shares to take short positions as retail sales and consumer confidence have retreated this year.
Its peer Marks & Spencer was also targeted, with 3.9 per cent of its stock out on loan – more than double the 1.4 per cent average level of shorting on the FTSE 100.
Short interest in the UK’s biggest blue-chip companies is far lower than across the all-share index, where troubled directory publisher Yell Group has almost a fifth of its shares on loan.
But Data Explorers research director Will Duff Gordon said South African finance group Investec and commodities trader Glencore were new FTSE 100 targets. “Both Investec and Glencore have seen sharp increases in demand to borrow the shares since the end of August,” he said.
Insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson made a surprise entry into the ten most shorted stocks on the FTSE all-share, with 10.5 per cent of its shares borrowed, despite sealing a £166m investment from major shareholder Jardine Matheson.