5 Stocks Burning Their Shorts

Naysayers thought they had Global Geophysical Services (NYSE: GGS  ) all figured out.

The provider seismic data solutions for the oil and gas industry stunned investors with a sharp quarterly deficit to close out 2012, and analysts figured that Global Geophysical would post another quarterly deficit last week on a steep drop in revenue.

There were 1.9 million shares of Global Geophysical sold short as of mid-April, more bearish wagers than at any time over the past year.

Well, Global Geophysical came through with a surprising profit on an adjusted basis. Revenue spiked sequentially, and the company closed out the period with a healthy backlog of orders. The stock took off on the news, and it has soared 80% since the April 15 reading of its short interest.

Global Geophysical Services isn't the only company that has burned shorts over the past nine trading days. Let's take a look at other publicly traded companies that have gone on to post double-digit percentage gains since recording recent highs in short interest activity.

 

Short Shares

April 15

April 29

Gain

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR  )

10.4 million

$13.95

$16.36

17%

SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY  )

3.5 million

$18.56

$23.34

26%

Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ: PACB  )

2.7 million

$2.11

$2.54

20%

Sandstorm Gold (NYSEMKT: SAND  )

3.5 million

$7.00

$7.80

11%

Source: Barron's.

Feeding the bears
Caesars Entertainment is the globally known casino operator. It's essentially near the peak 10.5 million shares sold short by the end of March. Short activity at the gaming giant behind the Caesars, Harrah's, and Horseshoe brands has more than doubled over the past six months. Caesars reports on Wednesday, and investors appear to be buying into what they believe will be strong financial results. Skeptics betting against the house lose again.

SolarCity went public late last year. The installer of solar panels for homes and businesses was a hot IPO on the strength of Elon Musk's chairmanship. Yes, that Musk. SolarCity isn't expected to be profitable for a couple of years -- and that may be why the number of shorts hit a fresh high of 3.5 million earlier this month -- but the growing popularity of alternative energy makes SolarCity and its creative financing plans a dangerous stock to be against.

Pacific Biosciences of California, or PacBio for short, is a provider of genetic diagnostics. PacBio is another company that is still a couple of years away from profitability, but its quarterly report last week was clearly well received by investors. PacBio managed to post a narrowing deficit despite a steep year-over-year drop in revenue. The 2.7 million shares sold short are the highest at PacBio since last summer.

Finally we have Sandstorm bucking the trend of cascading gold companies. If speculators holding the 3.5 million shares sold short as of mid-April were betting on gold prices taking a dive, they got what they wanted. However, Sandstorm shares have more than bounced back after an initial hit. Gold streaming companies including Sandstorm offer lower risk plays on the yellow metal.

Skepticism hurts
All five of these companies have their challenges, but, clearly, investors think that the pessimism has been too much over the past few days.

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