UniPixel Inc (UNXL), Navistar International Corp (NAV): When Being ‘Short’ Backfires!

It Doesn’t Take Much to Reverse a Long-Term Shorted Stock

Up until last week, Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV) traded with a one-year loss of 42%. This is a stock that had seen an incredible downtrend since January 2011, and therefore had created a significant amount of short interest. Because after all, shorts want to invest in a stock that trades lower — that’s how they make money.

Last week, after announcing earnings, the stock saw gains of more than 40%. The company’s earnings were not that good; it beat on the bottom line but missed on the top line. However, the neat thing about high short interest — in this case 35.30% of its float — is that it doesn’t take a lot to create large upside. In this case it was the announcement of a new CEO. While I don’t believe in the long-term upside of this stock, investors must acknowledge that with it being so oversold that additional gains are possible.

When Shorts Cover it Often Creates a Multi-Day Rally

Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV)Another company that saw a similar reaction was Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P). The company announced earnings after the market closed on Thursday and then popped 17.56%. Unlike Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV), Pandora’s earnings beat on both the top and bottom line, as the company saw strong performance in mobile.

As a result, these results forced shorts to cover, and there were a lot of them, almost 30% of the stock’s float. As you can see with Navistar, when shorts cover it can sometimes create a multi-day rally. Therefore, watch Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) this week, and don’t be surprised if it continues to trade higher.

A Look at Why Some Investors Prefer Short

Two weeks ago, another stock with large short interest — 30%% of its float — saw a massive pop after earnings and has continued to trade higher. This stock is Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ:PANL). This is a stock where the short interest makes sense, and should give retail investors an idea of what shorts might seek in a good short candidate. The stock trades at 18.13 times sales and is a maker of technologies that are used in various smartphones. And with the decline of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), it has also seen a decline, until it announced earnings on Feb. 28. Personally, I wouldn’t touch the stock with its valuation so high, therefore despite gains, don’t expect shorts to leave anytime soon.

Finally, one of the more controversial stocks of the last four months has also created a very large short interest. UniPixel Inc (NASDAQ:UNXL) was a small $70 million company back in December, but is now valued at over $260 million. This large run-up has followed the company’s announced of a “multi-million dollar” deal with an unnamed PC vendor.

Typically, when stocks see rallies such as this it creates more short interest, and shorts have rapidly acquired almost 40% of its float. UniPixel Inc (NASDAQ:UNXL) is another case that makes sense. It’s a stock that has rallied over 300% due to speculation. However, up until this point, the short interest has backfired, and as a result, many of the shorts have been forced to cover, which indirectly pushes the stock even higher. The process of understanding such outcomes can actually benefit longs in trying to profit from the pessimism of shorts, but in this case, my belief is that shorts will soon get this one right.

Conclusion

In my book, Taking Charge With Value Investing (McGraw-Hill, 2013), I discuss unmeasured fundamentals to explain how investors can use these things to make better investment decisions and to capitalize on overly pessimistic behavior. One topic is identifying the difference between a justly short stock and one that is not. For example, stocks such as UniPixel Inc (NASDAQ:UNXL) and Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ:PANL) are appropriately shorted, as most reasonable investors understand that it is simply a domino effect that is leading to such large gains. However, in the case of stocks such as Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) or even Navistar International Corp (NYSE:NAV), investors’ pessimistic long-term outlooks can often be beneficial and create large gains when a catalyst presents itself.

To better explain, I’ll conclude with Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPPI):This is a company that has seen multiple years of growth, has three FDA approved products, 10 drugs in its pipeline, a P/E ratio of 8, yet still has a short ratio of 33.30. The presence of shorts will keep the stock volatile (100% more volatile than the market), and will keep it from appropriately appreciating to reflect fundamental performance. But as we’ve seen in the past, eventually the overly pessimistic outlooks will create large and sudden gains. The key is patience, being able to remain calm and logical despite frustration, and you will then reap the benefits when being short backfires.

Brian Nichols is long SPPI. The Motley Fool recommends Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ:PANL). The Motley Fool owns shares of Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ:PANL).

Comments
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months. Our beta is only 1.2 (don't click this link if beating the market isn't important to you).

Lists

The Best B-Boy Movies

Most Awesome Hip Hop Documentaries

Foods That Stain Your Teeth

Richest Doctors in the World

The Best Movie Sountracks Ever

The Highest Grossing Musicals on Broadway

The Most Successful Reality TV Stars

Cheapest Cities to Visit in the US

Most Expensive Summer Camps

Most Expensive Animals in the World

Most Expensive Specialty Crops in the World

Movies That Took Ages to Make

The Longest Hollywood Films Ever Made

Most Expensive Concert Stages

The Richest Bands of all Time

10 Most Corrupt Countries 2013 List

10 Countries with the Highest Quality of Life Index

Most Expensive Mattresses in the World

5 Smallest Countries by Land Area

The Ultimate Heartbreak Songs

Richest Teenagers in the World

10 Most Haunted Places in America

10 Best Places to Retire in Florida East Coast

Top 10 Places to See Before You Die

Top 8 Countries in the World Where Justice Prevails

10 Richest States in America

15 Wealthiest Countries in the World

Richest Singers in the World

Most Expensive Tasting Menu in New York City

Most Expensive Baby Items in the World

Most Expensive Hotel Suites in Vegas

Most Expensive Brunch in New York City

Most Expensive Beef Cuts in the World

25 Best Colleges to Get a Job

Top 10 US Supermarkets

The 25 Most Dangerous Cities in the World to Visit

Most Expensive Xbox Games

Top 11 Cities Where Billionaires Live

Top 10 Most Charitable Companies in America

Most Expensive Seafood in the World

The 10 Wildest Conspiracy Theories

The 10 Best Job Markets in the US

Top 10 Accounting Scandals of All Time

The 25 Biggest Cities in the World

Top 10 Best Paying Virtual Jobs

Most Expensive Leather Shoes in the World

Top 6 Things to Buy in March

The 10 Most Stressful Jobs in America – 2014 List

Top 10 Jobs for Introverted People

Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations in the World

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!