Snapchat corporate parent Snap Inc. (SNAP) realized this when a tweet from celebrity Kylie Jenner tanked the stock price by more than 8% intraday during late February. (See also: Snap Shares Tank After Kylie Jenner Snubs Redesign.)
Though bad for the investors holding long positions, it resulted in massive gains for the short sellers. Since then, the stock price has continued its downward run and currently trades at record low levels of around $10.75 per share at the time of writing.
Short sellers sell the stock of companies they believe are overvalued and trading at high price, with an intention to buy them back at a later date when the price comes down. They benefit by pocketing the difference in the sell and buy prices, but run the risk of loss if the price jumps higher.
SNAP—Best Performer for Short Sellers
The Snap stock short sellers had an anxiously long duration where they saw the stock price rise from $14.95 per share on Jan. 2 to a high of $20.75 by early February. Yahoo! Finance reports that Snap short sellers had lost $537.7 million by then, according to data from S3 Partners, which tracks short interest in the market.
Those who held on to their nerves were rewarded, as then came Jenner's tweet after which the Snap stock has not been able to recover ever since. For the short sellers, Snap stock has generated a healthy return of 52% during the period, allowing them to pocket a hefty profit of $715 million on $1.4 billion of invested short interest since the eventful tweet.
A standard indicator of the market sentiment of a stock, short interest is the quantity of stock shares that investors have sold short but not yet covered or closed out. Changes in value of short interest help track the change in investor sentiments about a particular stock.
“Overall, SNAP short interest actually has fallen, down $285 million year-to-date, or about 19%, but shorts continued to pile in as the price has fallen, with shares shorted increasing from 84.4 million when the stock was at $15.63 to 115 million shares shorted today,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners. “This indicates strong bearishness in the stock as short sellers continue to build their positions as they make money on the trade,” he added.
While Snap ranks first among best performing short stocks in terms of returns, Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and AT&T Inc. (T) hold the next two positions. Tesla has generated a return of around 15.9% for the short sellers. It generated $1.6 billion on $10.4 billion of short interest. Tesla is currently the most shorted company across the globe. The company continues to make headlines for various reasons, including production challenges for its iconic Model 3 car, car crashes and increased skepticism over its capital requirements. (See also: Tesla Needs $10B by 2020 to Sustain: Goldman Sachs.)
AT&T allowed short sellers to earn $746 million on a short interest of $6.3 billion this year, placing it third in the list with 11.8% returns. (See also: AT&T Stock Faces a 14% Decline.)