Memorandum: Short Sales on the New York Stock Exchange: Their Share of All Trades and the Types of Companies Most Likely to be Sold Short

Memorandum

Short Sales on the New York Stock Exchange: Their Share of All Trades and the Types of Companies Most Likely to be Sold Short

Robert J. Shapiro

Sonecon, July 2006

We analyzed the extent and focus of short sales of New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) companies over a six-month period, February – July 2006.

    • More than one-fourth of all NYSE shares traded are sold short, or about 330 million shares out of 1.3 billion shares traded daily.
    • The proportion of shares traded that are sold short is inversely related to a company’s share price: Among NYSE companies selling for $20 or less per share, short sales account for about 30 percent of all shares traded, compared to about 23 percent of all shares traded in companies selling for $40 or more per share.
    • The proportion of shares traded that are sold short is inversely related to a company’s total market capitalization: Among NYSE companies with market caps of $3 billion or less, short sales account for more than 29 percent of all shares traded, compared to 23 percent of the shares traded in companies with market caps of over $10 billion.
    • The proportion of shares traded that are sold short varies by industry. Short sales account for nearly 29 percent of all shares traded in companies that produce discretionary consumer goods and services, including automobiles, appliances, textiles and apparel, hotels and restaurants – compared to less than 23 percent of all shares traded in companies in health care and consumer staples, including food, beverages, tobacco and household products.

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