How to Prevent your Shares Holdings from being Shorted


Q.: Why does short selling reduce share prices?

A: To short-sell a share speculators have to borrow the shares in the first place. Once they have done this they need to sell them in the market, and if this is done en-masse it can push the share price of a company down in the short term as there are more sellers than buyers in the market. Hedge funds specialising in short selling may also cause panic in the market by selling lots of shares in a company as other shareholders become worried about the share price plunge. Some companies will blame short sellers for dramatic declines in their stock price. The practice is so controversial that bans on short selling are not unknown and during the last credit crisis in 2008, traders were not allowed to short-sell certain banks and financial institutions.

 

Most borrowers and lenders of shares are institutions, brokers, etc. Mere mortals can borrow indirectly by using Spread Bets or Contracts for Difference. If you go short, you are effectively borrowing shares to sell for money; if you go long, you are effectively borrowing money to buy shares. Depending on the balance between shorts and longs, the company offering these products may choose to cover the risk by borrowing real shares to sell or by investing money to buy real shares.

Q.: What can you do to prevent your shares holdings from being shorted?

A: Now what can the average personal investor do to stop their own shares being shorted, as believe me your own broker, if approached, WILL sell your own shares that they hold on your behalf as a nominee account.

There are two things you can do, the first is to certificate them but this is not obviously to everyone’s advantage but the alternative solution is simple. All you do is to phone your broker and put an order in saying that you wish to place your shares for sale at, for arguments sake, double today’s price. As they are 'on order' they cannot be lent out by your broker and in turn you are reducing the amount of 'free shares' out there that can be used for shorting purposes. And don't forget to move your limit order up when the price starts to recover, then, that way your shares can't be shorted - not much but helps :D.

Although an individual personal investor will not normally have enough shares to halt a concerted shorting attack, if a large number of holders did this it would reduce the overall amount of shares that they could get their hands on.

In my opinion well worth doing if not only for the knowledge that your own shares cannot and will not be used in a short attack against the very share that you own.


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