ORTEX Short Interest Insights from December and 2022


The month of December started off with strong data for the labor market, with nonfarm payrolls soaring by 263,000 in November. Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, the news sparked a brutal sell-off as investors worried that the data would allow the Fed to justify remaining aggressively hawkish. 

Here are ORTEX’s estimates for how aggregate short interest (SI) shares changed for each S&P 500 sector for the month of December.

Sector Starting SI Shares Ending SI Shares % Change
Energy 428,609,225 436,540,506 1.9%
Materials 201,227,263 189,820,838 (5.7%)
Industrials 478,413,976 472,393,674 (1.3%)
Consumer Discretionary 887,020,080 869,212,797 (2.0%)
Consumer Staples 327,547,255 341,255,447 4.2%
Health Care 442,158,310 433,179,654 (2.0%)
Financials 573,974,560 540,602,432 (5.8%)
Information Technology 872,955,954 892,494,326 2.2%
Communication Services 779,881,430 811,063,030 4.0%
Utilities 301,973,823 308,046,207 2.0%
Real Estate 288,870,158 284,826,505 (1.4%)


Heading into the month, the market was coming off a strong rally at the end of November driven by the Fed confirming that it would moderate upcoming interest rate hikes, but the specter of a potential recession on the horizon contributed to ongoing weakness. Short-sellers were able to reap $32 billion in cumulative profits for December.

Top Short Seller Gain and Loss for 2022

Due in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent spike in oil prices, energy stocks outperformed in 2022. That included a strong 80% rally for energy giant Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM). While short interest is low as a percentage of free float (less than 1%), Exxon Mobil’s sheer size led to short-seller losses of $1.71 billion for all of 2022.

For the third month in a row, Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) delivered more in profits to short sellers than any other stock. The EV giant’s shares continue to slide on demand fears and deteriorating investor sentiment, yielding $5.44 billion in short gains for the month of December. For the full year, Tesla bears reaped an incredible $15.75 billion in profits thanks to the stock’s 65% decline in 2022.

The rally in energy stocks led to short-seller losses across that sector, while the list of short-seller gains is dominated by technology companies and EV upstarts. Here are the top 10 short-seller gains and loss for all of 2022.

Ticker Company Short Profit/(Loss) 2022
TSLA Tesla $15,747,450,229
AMZN Amazon $5,566,701,421
AAPL Apple $5,377,089,510
META Meta Platforms $5,358,172,761
SQ Block $4,213,891,749
MSFT Microsoft $3,928,595,127
SE Sea Limited $3,677,222,692
AMD Advanced Micro Devices $3,505,686,704
NVDA NVIDIA $3,432,330,458
LCID Lucid Group $3,350,254,721
SLB Schlumberger ($532,841,498)
PCG PG&E Corporation ($554,972,780)
COP ConocoPhilips ($591,572,739)
MRK Merck & Co. ($609,783,960)
VLO Valero ($613,976,903)
MPC Marathon Petroleum ($818,831,725)
AMGN Amgen ($934,771,553)
OXY Occidental Petroleum ($1,089,402,411)
CVX Chevron Corporation ($1,171,415,134)
XOM Exxon Mobil ($1,708,713,548)


Short Squeeze Candidates with the Highest ORTEX Short Scores

Looking ahead to a new trading year, bearish sentiment remains strong among EV stocks. Of the top 10 short squeeze candidates with the highest ORTEX Short Scores (with at least 3 analysts covering the stock), 4 are EV pure-play stocks. Our ORTEX Short Score uses a multi-factor model that incorporates multiple short-related metrics, with a higher score indicating that the stock is heavily-shorted and has other characteristics that increase the possibility of a short squeeze occurring.

Ticker Stock Market cap USD Industry Short Score Estimated Short Interest % FF
NKLA Nikola Corporation $1,107,616,647 Capital Goods 97.19 31.43
BYND Beyond Meat $784,667,873 Food, Beverage and Tobacco 96.36 38.75
SDIG Stronghold Digital Mining $11,083,448 Software and Services 96.33 26.33
FSR Fisker Inc. $2,267,589,087 Automobiles and Components 95.41 34.30
BLNK Blink Charging Co. $557,988,666 Capital Goods 94.10 32.28
CRCT Cricut $2,046,987,170 Consumer Durables and Apparel 93.97 23.60
EVGO EVgo $310,034,747 Retailing 93.71 34.23
DNMR Danimer Scientific $181,485,724 Materials 92.79 21.77
CSSE Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment $106,341,606 Media and Entertainment 92.68 11.61
SMR NuScale Power Corporation $532,198,676 Capital Goods 92.17 17.72


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