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WPG: Insiders vs. Shorts

By Market News Video Staff, Thursday, June 13, 2:17 PM ET
Play Video: What Short Interest Means

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The most recent short interest data was recently released for the 04/15/2019 settlement date, and Washington Prime Group (NYSE:WPG) is one of the most shorted stocks of the Russell 3000, based on 17.71 "days to cover" versus the median component at 5.30. There are a number of ways to look at short data, but one metric that we find particularly useful is the "days to cover" because it considers both the total shares short and the average daily volume of shares typically traded. The number of shares short is then divided by the average daily volume, to express the total number of trading days it would take to close out all of the open short positions if every share traded represented a short position being closed.

In the case of Washington Prime Group (NYSE:WPG), the total short interest at the 04/15/2019 settlement date was 38,939,326 shares, which compares to the average daily trading volume of just 2,198,170 shares, for a "days to cover" ratio of 17.71.

When short sellers eventually cover their positions, by definition there must be buying activity because a share that is currently sold short must be purchased to be covered. At the present levels of short interest, if from this point forward every single WPG share traded represented a short position being closed, then at the average daily volume of 2,198,170 shares it would only be during the 18th trading day that every short position would be closed.

So it would stand to reason that should some unexpectedly good news come out, and short sellers did not have 18 days of patience but instead wanted to cover their short positions very suddenly, that situation could result in sending the stock higher until the higher price produces enough sellers to generate the necessary volume to close out those positions quickly.

Washington Prime Group (NYSE:WPG) has something relatively rare for a stock with this much short interest, that being insiders taking the other side of the trade. Looking back over the trailing six month period, WPG has seen 2 different instances of insider buying, as summarized by the table below:

Purchased Insider Title Shares Price/Share Value
12/20/2018 Sheryl G. Von Blucher Director 25,000 $4.83 $120,875.00
12/20/2018 Louis G. Conforti Chief Executive Officer 20,747 $4.81 $99,807.81
05/01/2019 Louis G. Conforti Chief Executive Officer 22,500 $4.55 $102,446.87

Below is a chart showing the "days to cover" for WPG over time:

And looking at the chart below, WPG's low point in its 52 week range is $3.80 per share, with $8.4365 as the 52 week high point — that compares with a last trade of $4.33.

Washington Prime Group  Moving Averages Chart

In recent trading, shares of Washington Prime Group (NYSE:WPG) were changing hands at $4.33/share.

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