After a three-month buildup from May to July, Netflix Inc (NFLX) short sellers have been slowly trimming their exposure to the online media giant with 1.8 million shares covered, -7.48%, since the beginning of August. NFLX is the 6th largest short in the U.S. market and continues to be the largest short in the Movies and Entertainment Sector. NFLX short interest is $6.2 billion; 21.85 million shares shorted; 5.10% of its float and a 0.30% stock borrow fee (general collateral.)
Short selling in Netflix Inc (NFLX US) has been decreasing since the end of July even though its stock price continued to fall, but we should expect short selling to increase as Apple Inc (AAPL US) announced its own streaming service called Apple TV+ that will launch in November at a price of $4.99 per month. Apple joins The Walt Disney Co (DIS US) and Amazon Inc (AMZN US) in a crowded entertainment segment that Netflix was once the undisputed leader. Netflix shares trades down almost -4% after the announcement and is now down -2.16% at the close.
Netflix Inc (NFLX) reported 2nd quarter earnings of $4.9 billion, up 26% year-on-year, but added fewer than expected domestic and international subscribers driving its price down almost 11% in aftermarket trading following a relatively weak trading day which saw its stock price fall nearly 1%.
Netflix, Inc (NFLX) will be releasing their earnings after the bell today. The big question is whether the largest internet subscription service will be able to follow up last yearâ€™s surge in subscriber growth with another blockbuster year or will competition from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN), stand alone streaming channels and pending Apple Inc (AAPL) and Walt Disney Co (DIS) streaming services take a bite out of their meteoric growth path.
Netflix Inc (NFLX) short sellers cut their short exposure in 2018 by 37%, covering 8.1 million shares of shorts as they lost $2.04 billion, -34.90%, in mark-to-market P\L. In the first month of 2019 we are seeing a reversal of the trend, with short sellers adding 1.35 million shares of new shorts, +9.7%, in less than three weeks. While NFLX short interest has climbed 45%, to $5.36 billion, short sellerâ€™s losses continued to mount this year, down another $1.2 billion in mark-to-market losses in less than a month.
The FAANG stocks are five of the top ten most shorted stocks in the domestic U.S. stock market and because of the sheer size of combined short exposure they represent both risk â€śAlphaâ€ť trades and hedging â€śBetaâ€ť trades.
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The weeklong rally from last weekâ€™s lows has taken a bite out of the $93.7 billion of mark-to-market profits, +11.12%, short sellers have earned since the beginning of October. Over the last week the S&P 500 index increased by 3.31%, the Nasdaq by 4.3% and the Russell 3000 by 3.23%. The S3 Blacklight platform tracks over 8,000 U.S. domestic equity shorts worth over $825 billion, which incurred mark-to-market losses of $23.3 billion, or -2.86%, over the last week.
FAANG stocks (FB, AMZN, AAPL, NFLX & GOOGL) were down 4.7% last week, 3.6% on Friday alone, after Amazon.com and Alphabet announced disappointing quarterly results amid overall weakness in the tech sector. While long shareholders incurred large losses from these widely held stocks, short sellers made $1.62 billion in mark-to-market profits last week.
Tesla Inc (TSLA) and the FAANG stocks continue to be some of the largest shorts in the U.S. market, taking five of the top ten spots in the U.S. league table. While Tesla is a momentum, value and convertible arbitrage short, one of the main drivers for the large short interest in the FAANG stocks is their ability to be a â€śturbochargedâ€ť hedge for the long side of a portfolio.
Matthew Harrigan of Buckingham Research downgraded Netflix Inc. (NFLX) to underperform from neutral with a $333 price target this morning. Harrigan pointed to â€śoptimistic forecastsâ€ť in long term subscriber growth and competition from both domestic and international streaming services in quality content that may affect future margins.