Traders can't stop betting against battered Blue Apron

Stock traders can’t stop kicking Blue Apron while it’s down.

The company’s stock is already trading at roughly half of its $US10 initial public offering price, but apparently that isn’t low enough for the bearish speculators adding to wagers.

They have grown bets against Blue Apron to $US69.3 million this month, up 12% since the end of September, according to data compiled by financial-analytics firm S3 Partners.

Apparently those short sellers, who have already made a mark-to-market profit of $US24.9 million since the company’s June 29 IPO, are hoping to pad their bank accounts even more.

And it’s not like these wagers are cheap. Amid this recent surge in short interest, borrowing rates have spiked to double where they were just one week ago. In the end, their willingness to pay such a premium shows conviction.

If these traders are right about the direction of Blue Apron’s stock, it will be just the latest hit in what’s been an extremely tough road for the company since it started the process to go public.

Estimated to be valued at as much as $US3 billion during its roadshow, Blue Apron’s IPO quest was derailed suddenly when deal-happy retail juggernaut Amazon shelled out $US13.7 billion to buy Whole Foods. That proved to be terrible timing for Blue Apron, contributing to its IPO range being cut to $US10 to $US11 a share from $US15 to $US17. The eventual price of $US10 was 40% below what it originally said.

Blue Apron’s problems didn’t end there. In addition to the subsequent stock drop to even lower levels, the company announced in August that it had laid off 14 members of its recruitment team and temporarily halted the hiring of salaried employees.

And the competition is only getting more fierce. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that fellow meal-kit startup HelloFresh — which is planning an IPO on the German stock exchange — is marketing its offering by telling investors that it’s set to overtake Blue Apron in the US.

What’s more, grocery store chain Albertson’s acquired Plated — another meal-kit startup — for between $US175 million to $US200 million.

Amid all of this fervor in the industry, it’s looking like traders think no price is too low for Blue Apron’s flailing stock. The company’s shares rose 0.2% to $US5.26 at 1:49 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

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