Britain’s ten most-hated shares

This is a list of the ten most-hated shares on the London market, judged by the percentage of stock being shorted. Short sellers hope to profit from falling stock prices, so it can be useful to see what they are betting against.

The list is also a good indicator of stocks with the potential to bounce strongly on unexpected good news – ‘short squeezes’ occur when short sellers are forced out of their positions, which can send share prices surging.

The supermarkets remain the most unpopular sector this month, while Petrofac joins the top ten after a huge profit warning amid falling oil prices. WH Smith’s surge to record levels and a high valuation, and its trouble growing sales on the high street, makes a setback look likely.

Company What it does % of stock being shorted
J Sainsbury Supermarket 11.4%
WH Smith Retailer 9.9%
Wm Morrison Supermarket 8.5%
Serco Group Outsourcing 8.3%
Ashmore Group EM specialist fund group 8.0%
Asos Clothing retailer 7.7%
Ocado Supermarket 7.0%
Greene King Pubs 6.8%
Nanoco Group Nanotech/semiconductors 6.7%
Petrofac Oil & gas services 6.0%