MoviePass is trading at just 2 cents a share, but investors are still piling into bets it's headed to zero

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • MoviePass parent Helios & Matheson has remained a popular target for short sellers, even as shares of the company trade near two cents.
  • It’s rare for short sellers to continue piling into bets against a company that’s already fallen so far, according to financial-analytics firm S3 Partners.
  • Watch Helios & Matheson trade in real time here.

Shares of Helios & Matheson Analytics, the parent company of much-maligned MoviePass, have plummeted more than 99% in recent months.

But that doesn’t seem to be enough for ruthless short sellers, who are continuing to load up on bets the company’s stock is headed to zero.

It’s unusual behaviour for investors to continue wagering against a stock once its price has fallen below $US1 a share, according to financial-analytics firm S3 Partners. At that point, traders usually close out positions and take profits.

But the high-profile nature of MoviePass – combined with the speed of its decline – has clearly kept the attention of investors, even as shares hover near just two cents. Their insistence upon continuing to short, even at such depressed levels, suggests a high degree of conviction.

The chart below shows notional short interest – a measure of bets against a stock – for Helios & Matheson. As you can see, it’s surged in recent months as MoviePass’ woes have mounted.

This insatiable desire for short-selling profits stands in stark contrast to the issues faced by the legions of retail shareholders who have taken deep losses. And to make matters worse, as Helios & Matheson’s stock has tumbled, the company has covered massive losses by selling new shares to passionate investors.

Meanwhile, the fundamentals of Helios & Matheson are getting shakier by the day. Just last week, a director resigned from the company’s board, accusing management of withholding material information for months. A few days earlier, reports began trickling out that MoviePass was making life difficult for annual subscribers who wanted refunds.

And that’s just in recent days.

All of the negative turmoil could explain why short sellers have been so adamant about continuing to bet against a company that’s already quite beaten down.

“Usually we see a plateauing of shares shorted when we get to such low price levels because traders don’t see much meat on the bone,” Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3’s managing director of predictive analytics, told Business Insider over email.

“But in HMNY’s case, traders must be thinking that HMNY’s stock price will go to $US0.00, otherwise they wouldn’t be initiating new short positions.”

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