- Beyond Meat short-sellers have lost $US158 million since the company listed in May.
- The stock opened at $US103.25 Thursday, 313% above its initial-public-offering price.
- Betting against the stock has become increasingly expensive.
- Watch Beyond Meat trade live.
Traders who have shorted, or bet against, Beyond Meat’s top-performing initial public offering have lost more than $US150 million since the company listed shares on May 2, according to data-analytics firm S3 Partners.
Beyond opened at $US103.25 on Thursday, a 313% gain from the initial listing price, inflicting a $US158.2 million loss on short-sellers. In addition, the price to borrow stock rose to 100%, meaning that it is just as expensive to short the stock as it is to own it. On Wednesday, short sellers paid over $US1 million just in borrow fees on the stock, according to S3 Partners.
Shares were trading around $US100 apiece at 12:37 p.m. ET on Thursday.
“This is an extraordinarily expensive short to put on,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners. “It’s unbelievably unusual.”
Vegan, plant-based “meat” is becoming the latest trend to take off in the market and the kitchen. Rumours of a potential partnership with McDonald’s could boost Beyond’s stock price 30%, according to a recent Jefferies note.
Fast-food chains such as Del Taco, Burger King and Tim Horton’s have added vegan meat substitutes to menus in recent months, and KFC is reportedly meeting with major plant-based “meat” makers to discuss vegan fried chicken. Chick-fil-A is also exploring adding a vegan option to its menu.
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There are other things that have driven the stock price higher and have made it a difficult short.
There is not a lot of stock supply currently on the market as it’s only available to retail investors, not institutional ones. Additionally, the stock is still in its 180-day lockup period, meaning that early investors are not able to sell.
When the lockup period expires October 29, more shares will likely be available to trade, which could lower the price of shorting the stock, according to Dusaniwsky. But with that date looming more than five months in the future, short sellers might not hold on that long.
“I’m not sure the shorts have the stamina to stay in the trade for three months,” Dusaniwsky said.
Many stocks see a jump in price after their IPOs, but few see the climb that Beyond has experienced, even mega IPOs such as Uber and Lyft. For traders and short-sellers looking at momentum or technical analysis, it might look like a good time to exit, Dusaniwsky said.
“I’m not really seeing ‘oh yeah this looks like a top,'” he said.
The big question is how high can it go, and how will that impact borrow fees for short sellers. “I don’t think rates will be easing,” he said. “This will probably become one of the most expensive borrows on the street.”
Short sellers that weigh the value of the stock might hold on. Value short-sellers see that the price has built on media attention as opposed to revenue or projected sales. At some point, Dusaniwsky said, they may bet that the chatter will die down.
But even that is up for debate. Dusaniwsky said that he sees Beyond Meat as similar to Tesla – a stock that investors like to hold regardless of performance.
“It’s more than just a stock that has dollars and cents behind it, it’s a lifestyle stock,” he said. “That’s much harder to fight on the short side.”
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