The appetite of short sellers, who are betting against vegan meat company Beyond Meat (BYND), is insatiable.
Despite Beyond Meat shares carrying insanely high borrowing costs relative to other packaged foods and meat stocks, short sellers continue to line up to bet against the El Segundo, California-based company that has rallied more than 600% since its May initial public offering.
As of Tuesday’s open, that incredible rally meant short sellers had racked up $739 million in total mark-to-market losses since Beyond’s IPO, according to S3 Analytics.
“For the most part short sellers are not capitulating in the face of expensive financing costs and large mark-to-market losses,” wrote S3 Analytics Managing Director Ihor Dusaniwsky. “Even when shorts do close out their positions, there is another short standing right behind them ready to take the returned stock borrow and short the stock in their place.”
Despite a 63% increase in Beyond Meat’s share price so far in June adding to the short seller carnage, Dusaniwsky said short interest has remained little changed with short interest still comprising about 46% of Beyond Meat’s public float.
One of the first investors to short Beyond Meat, Atlanta-based Harrington Alpha Fund founder Bruce Cox, told Yahoo Finance that attempts to re-open his short position on the stock had been unsuccessful due to a lack of share availability.
Dusaniwsky predicted that outsized short interest would likely push Beyond Meat borrowing fees from the current 82% fee back up above 100%, which would be much higher than the 0.30% borrowing fee attached to shares of its heavily-shorted peers Hormel Foods (HRL) and McCormick (MKC).
Shorting may trigger another rally
Dusaniwsky also predicted that the outsized short interest could further fuel an extended rally in Beyond Meat’s share price should traders be forced to cover their positions in what’s known as a short squeeze.
“A BYND short squeeze and a short covering (buying) rally may be just around the corner,” he wrote. “Many short sellers are getting closer to the tipping point of closing out their positions due to expensive stock borrow rates, stock loan recalls and massive mark-to-market losses.”
Through mid-May, total mark-to-market losses amounted to just over $96 million — a far cry from the $739 million as of Tuesday’s open.