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Do you like to go against the crowd? Earnings season is a great time to cash in on unexpected results. But short-sellers don't feel so optimistic this earnings season -- the small-cap stocks below are seeing an increase in short-selling. But if they're wrong, investors may see a high level of short coverings -- and big gains.
Exploring the ideas
The concept of an earnings surprise is pretty straightforward -- the quarterly earnings come out, and earnings analysts are "surprised" by how they don't match up to their predictions. A surprise can indicate either positive or negative earnings, meaning the annual reports are above or below analysts' earnings estimates. For this list, we're only use positive surprises.
Investors care about these "surprises" because when a stock releases data above expectations, the stock quickly adjusts to price in the new information.
Investors often look to short-seller trends to determine market sentiment. Short sellers are investors that benefit from falling stock prices. If they are increasing their short positions on these names it's a signal that they are becoming more pessimistic about their short-term performance.
Business section: Investing ideas
Contrarian investors tend to go against the crowd. One mind-set of contrarians is that excessive bearishness or bullishness, such as the bearishness shown by short-sellers, might signal that a stock is oversold or undervalued. If so, it may create an investing opportunity before the market value corrects itself.
These stocks are reporting earnings this week: Do you think short-sellers have it right?
All names have market caps between $300 million and $2 billion. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
1. Arbitron (NYSE: ARB ) : Provides media and marketing information services in the United States and internationally. It has a market cap of $1.02 billion. Shares shorted have increased from 1.52 million to 1.77 million over the last month, an increase which represents about 1.08% of the company's float of 23.25 million shares. It reports earnings on April 19.
2. Builders FirstSource (Nasdaq: BLDR ) : Engages in the manufacture and supply of structural and related building products for residential new construction primarily in the Southern and Eastern United States. It has a market cap of $359.5 million. Shares shorted have increased from 2.53 million to 3.01 million over the last month, an increase which represents about 1.55% of the company's float of 30.95 million shares. The company reports earnings on April 19.
3. CYS Investments (NYSE: CYS ) : A specialty finance company created with the objective of achieving consistent risk-adjusted investment income. It has a market cap of $1.51 billion. Shares shorted have increased from 10.73 million to 11.94 million over the last month, an increase which represents about 1.09% of the company's float of 110.58 million shares. The company reports earnings on April 19.
4. McMoRan Exploration (NYSE: MMR ) : Engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore in the Gulf Coast area of the United States. It has a market cap of $1.46 billion. Shares shorted have increased from 18.15 million to 19.13 million over the last month, an increase which represents about 1.02% of the company's float of 96.54 million shares. The company reports earnings on April 17.
5. USG (NYSE: USG ) : Engages in the manufacture and distribution of building materials worldwide. It has a market cap of $1.75 billion. Shares shorted have increased from 22.36 million to 24.73 million over the last month, an increase which represents about 3.27% of the company's float of 72.49 million shares. The company reports earnings on April 17.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.