Traders betting against Wingstop got burned last year -- but now they're doubling down

Investors just can’t stop betting against Wingstop.

Short interest in the stock now sits at the highest since the chicken chain went public in June 2015, with roughly $US215 million at risk for bearish speculators, data from financial analytics firm S3 Partners shows.

The bearishness is nothing new for Wingstop. The company’s shares have previously shown resilience in the face of downside bets. While short exposure nearly doubled in 2016, the stock surged 30%, costing those speculators an average of 23% on their positions.

Wingstop has a particularly high-profile detractor: Kase Capital founder Whitney Tilson, who identified the company as his largest short position in an April 7 presentation. He called the company’s valuation “absurd,” noting that same store sales growth is decelerating, and stating that there’s “little that is proprietary or unique about this business.” He largely echoed comments he made back in November.

The company’s stock is down 5.8% so far in 2017, although it’s rallied 11% since falling to a 10-month low on March 7. Still, its current level is down 16% from a record high reached in December.

NOW WATCH: How the US could prevent a North Korean nuclear strike — according to a former Marine and cyberwarfare expert

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.