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An Unlikely Basket of Stocks Is Leaving Latest Rally in the Dust

Aoyon Ashraf

(Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds that may be closing their short positions might just be contributing to one basket of unloved stocks outperforming the North American market.

JPMorgan’s call on Wednesday for market participants to take advantage of a small window in September to cover shorts may have anticipated some stocks moving higher -- and which are providing unexpected outperformance. A quick screen of North American stocks with market caps above $100 million, with a 50% decline year-to-date and short interest above 20% yields a basket of 17 stocks that are, on average, outperforming the market on Wednesday. The data came from analytics firm IHS Markit Ltd.

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These “unloved” stocks are up about 4% on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 is higher by about 0.5% in late afternoon trading. The basket includes some stocks with cult-like followings, such as GameStop Corp., which fell after a lousy quarter and, on the flipside, stocks such as Dean Foods, which almost doubled just this month after plunging virtually the entire year.

The 17 stocks that are in the basket are:

Any discussion of short-covering would hardly be complete without touching on Tesla Inc. which is one of the most shorted stocks in North America, with almost 26% or $8 billion of its total float shorted, according to Markit data. The electric carmaker wasn’t included in the basket because the screen only looked for stocks that had also lost more than 50% of their value year-to-date.

Tesla has climbed 9.5% since the start of September after having slumped about 32% year-to-date until the end of August. And today it’s up as much as 5.4%, indicating the possible presence of short covering.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Aoyon Ashraf in Toronto at aashraf7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at bolesen3@bloomberg.net, Scott Schnipper, Jennifer Bissell-Linsk

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