Short-sellers lose $16bn on bets against Corporate America during Covid-19

  • Short sellers lose $16bn on bets against 30 largest US companies since April 2020 with September registering as the only profitable month
  • The return of volatility could signal a change in tide for short sellers, according to Peter Hillerberg, co-founder of Ortex Analytics

ORTEX Analysis of the Dow Jones Industrial Average – the index that measures the stock market performance of the 30 biggest companies in the United States – shows that short sellers have lost £16bn since April 2020 as robust share price performance turned a number of short positions into negative territory.

From April 2020, short sellers have ended each month in the red with April and August representing the two largest loss making months during the period. This trend was reversed, however, in September as stock market volatility returned, generating $2.8bn in profit for short sellers.

 Short profits from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Apr-Sept 2020) 

Apr 2020 -$5,796m
May 2020 -$2,268m
Jun 2020 -$2,412m
Jul 2020 -$2,026m
Aug 2020 -$6,291m
Sep 2020 $2,792m


And per company, the list looks like below.

Ticker Company Name Total Short Profit
(in Period)
 Total Short Shares
(average for period)
 Short Value USD
(average for period)
AAPL Apple Inc. -$4,724.11 m 83.95 m $8,428.71 m
MSFT Microsoft Corporation -$2,377.35 m 41.01 m $8,052.17 m
CRM, inc. -$1,399.38 m 13.53 m $2,661.32 m
V Visa Inc. -$1,194.58 m 31.23 m $6,000.87 m
HD The Home Depot, Inc. -$841.31 m 8.12 m $2,022.24 m
DIS The Walt Disney Company -$762.08 m 24.47 m $2,887.47 m
NKE NIKE, Inc. -$464.80 m 10.86 m $1,090.91 m
PG The Procter & Gamble Company -$448.41 m 15.59 m $1,952.60 m
UNH UnitedHealth Group Incorporated -$417.68 m 5.92 m $1,779.00 m
WMT Walmart Inc. -$413.19 m 14.77 m $1,913.04 m
MCD McDonald’s Corporation -$385.76 m 6.56 m $1,271.53 m
AMGN Amgen Inc. -$381.35 m 6.21 m $1,487.64 m
JNJ Johnson & Johnson -$324.44 m 13.20 m $1,948.39 m
DOW Dow Inc. -$295.84 m 15.84 m $651.51 m
CAT Caterpillar Inc. -$225.83 m 7.77 m $995.22 m
INTC Intel Corporation -$208.84 m 64.50 m $3,458.12 m
AXP American Express Company -$189.26 m 10.39 m $994.16 m
VZ Verizon Communications Inc. -$186.86 m 30.99 m $1,775.82 m
IBM International Business Machines -$184.25 m 21.67 m $2,649.28 m
HON Honeywell International Inc. -$163.83 m 5.96 m $885.50 m
MMM 3M Company -$150.18 m 6.73 m $1,045.80 m
KO The Coca-Cola Company -$130.10 m 24.91 m $1,171.47 m
BA The Boeing Company -$127.18 m 12.27 m $1,947.63 m
MRK Merck & Co., Inc. -$105.36 m 14.83 m $1,193.68 m
CSCO Cisco Systems, Inc. -$39.27 m 34.16 m $1,501.99 m
TRV The Travelers Companies, Inc. -$29.42 m 4.78 m $526.19 m
CVX Chevron Corporation -$23.94 m 18.09 m $1,548.77 m
GS The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. -$1.63 m 0.03 m $6.21 m
JPM JPMorgan Chase & Co. $1.26 m 0.51 m $49.21 m
WBA Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. $194.49 m 17.84 m $716.00 m


 Short sellers thrive in volatile markets. Following the initial shock of the Covid-19 crisis in February and March, US markets have been in a bullish mood. This has caused significant pain for short-sellers, but the tide may well be turning. Only this month we’ve had Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test result, which sent shockwaves through markets, next month we have the election. Short sellers will be looking to get back on the front foot and be hoping for a turnaround in what should have been a stellar year for them.