Traders still shorting Ocado stock as online grocer hits near-record high

Marion Dakers
ONLINE grocer Ocado’s shares are still being shorted aggressively despite enjoying record highs this month, according to figures seen by City A.M.

The firm, which floated at 180p in July, closed at 224p yesterday after spiking at 290p on 10 February.

But figures from Data Explorer, which monitors stock loan and short selling activity, show that more than 40 per cent of shares available for borrowing in order to short the company were being used yesterday.

In total, 8.2 per cent of Ocado shares covered by Data Explorer are on loan to hedge funds and traders betting on a collapse in the share price. One company insider suggested that the real sum could be even higher.

The number of short positions on Ocado is more than double the average for a FTSE-listed company, which would normally see between two and three per cent of its shares used for shorting.

Investors owning around 20 per cent of Ocado’s shares make their stock available for short-selling.

The outlook for Ocado shares is better than last year, when more than 72 per cent of the shares available for loan, or 11.5 per cent of the total shares, were being used to bet on a slump.

A US hedge fund, Blue Ridge Capital, is thought to have lost up to £40m by shorting the stock last year as it bottomed out at 120.9p.

While Ocado bosses blamed hedge funds for partially keeping the stock price low after flotation, Data Explorer figures suggest that only two per cent of the shares were used for shorting in the first month after the IPO.

Ocado declined to comment yesterday.