Analysis of short positions against Footsie companies in September by Ortex Analytics found that London’s blue chip index was a rich hunting ground for investors and hedge funds looks to bet on share prices falling.
Overall, short sellers made profit on 53 out of the 100 companies that make up the UK’s large cap index.
The most profitable short position was against Rolls Royce, which returned £188m to short sellers in September, according to Ortex data.
This quartet was by far the most productive on the index last month, with Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG) and BP PLC (LON:BP.) in the subsequent places place with a calculated short return of just under £25mln, £17mln and £13mln respectively.
August had seen a number of big trades turn sour for short-sellers which impacted overall profitability, noted Peter Hillerberg, co-founder of Ortex.
“At the time, we predicted that the pendulum may swing back the other way in September and that’s exactly what we’ve seen as short sellers continue to profit from the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
“What has been fascinating to note is the extent of the swing for some companies; four of the top five most profitable trades this month were significant loss making trades in August, highlighting the speed at which fortunes can change during this volatile period.”
The companies that lost most money for short sellers were British American Tobacco PLC (LON:BATS) and Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO), both with a loss of around £49mln, followed by Just Eat Takeaway.com NV (LON:JET) and Unilever Group PLC (LON:ULVR), with £28mln and £24mln shorting losses respectively.