Hedge funds circle UK blue-chip names, as FTSE takes a tumble


Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Hargreaves Lansdown remain among the most heavily shorted stocks on the UK FTSE 100 according to new market data from Ortex Analytics, as the UK’s blue-chip index started the fourth quarter with a slide.

Short interest stats for the past week show that some 6.52 per cent of Hargreaves Lansdown’s stock is out on loan. High profile hedge funds including AQR Capital Management, Marshall Wace and Pelham currently hold negative wagers on the UK financial services provider, according to regulatory disclosures made to the Financial Conduct Authority.

Hedge funds betting against London-listed names are also circling the UK grocery space, with some 5.41 per cent of Ocado’s stock and 4.81 per cent of Sainsbury’s also held by short sellers, though managers have reduced their positions in both in recent weeks. 
BT Group is the next most shorted name, at 4.69 per cent, according to London-based equity research and short interest data provider Ortex.

Elsewhere, 3.29 per cent of online food delivery service Just Eat’s stock is on loan. BHP Group, Rolls-Royce Holdings, British Land, and Kingfisher are also among those stocks with the largest percentage of free float shares held short, Ortex’s research shows.

The FTSE 100 was down around 1 per cent at one point on Friday, sliding around 45 points, as renewed concerns over inflation - coupled with the ongoing supply squeeze at petrol pumps and the end of the UK’s furlough scheme - put investors on the backfoot. 

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Hugh Leask
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Editor, Hedgeweek