I'm interested in a stock that currently has a short interest of 40%. Which strikes me as huge, and unjustified in this case.

Which, in turn, makes me wonder what I'm missing that all those short sellers see.

It would help to know if this short interest is held by a bunch of investors, or by one or two deep pocketed ones. It'd concern me less if it was the latter. Also, if some of the big shorters' strategies are known, I could get an idea on why they're shorting this stock.

So, my questions are:

  1. Are major shorters of a stock required to disclose, like major holders are?
  2. If so, where can I find this info?
  3. If not, is there another way to figure out who the major shorters are?
    a. And how big their positions are?
  4. Is there a way I can see the total number of short positions (shorters, not shares) open on a given stock?

Bonus points for a free source of shorter info, instead of behind a paidwall.

  1. No.
  2. See 1.
  3. No, except for funds who publicly advertise their investment strategy (2x Short S&P 500 ETF), and even then you don't know from day to day how much of each underlying share they're borrowing, or how many individuals are invested in the fund. And even if you could know the, say, top 10 shorters of some stock, how would you know for sure that, say, 5 of them aren't actually the same entity masquerading as 5 different ones? Or whether one of them is actually a fund with a million investors?
  4. No. And even if you could, the same caveats apply as in 3.
  • One other source is social media. For example, recently, Mark Cuban announced that he was going long on calls on gold. Feb 20 '16 at 4:50
  • On #3 in my mind it would be the same way you know when someone's a major shareholder: they file as such. I guess it surprises me that if someone owns 10% of the stock, they have to notify the public, but if someone's sold 10% of the stock short, they don't.
    – Patches
    Feb 22 '16 at 15:06
  • Yes, this is (was?) a known issue associated with short-selling. By borrowing shares (ostensibly for shorting), it is possible for someone to amass significant voting power for a short period of time without ever technically owning the shares. Nowadays there might be a limit on the amount of time you can hold a borrowed share before performing the short sale. In any case, once you've borrowed and sold a share you certainly don't have voting power, so there's no real reason why you should have to notify the public.
    – dg99
    Feb 22 '16 at 23:41

There is no way to know anything about who has shorted stuff or how concentrated the positions are in a few investors. Short positions are not even reported in 13(F) institutional filings.

I'll take the bonus points, though, and point you to the US Equity Short Interest data source at quandl.

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