A few weeks ago, potential sources of stock ideas were discussed on this site. The post made reference to contrarian indicators that signal that a stock is hated; this hatred can result in a low price, which value investors love. One such contrarian indicator is a stock's short interest.
Twice a month, the exchanges release how many shares of an issue are held short (with a two-week lag). This can be a helpful resource in not only identifying which stocks Mr. Market hates, but also which same stocks Mr. Market plans to buy later. This is because when a share is shorted, it must be bought back later; as such, a high number of short shares suggests a higher than normal demand for shares in the future.
Highshortinterest.com offers a list of the most highly shorted stocks (relative to their floats) on the major US exchanges. It currently contains about 100 of the most hated stocks in the US, and plenty of stocks with value potential litter that list. For value investors looking for potential ideas worthy of further study, this is a decent place to start.
For example, a few spots down the list, both GameStop and Sears can be found, both of which are favoured by some value investors. Obviously, one shouldn't assume that just because these and other stocks are on the "high short" list, that they don't deserve to be hated.
But when sentiment on a stock is extremely negative, value investors should pay attention. As such, one of the best places to look for stock ideas is the short interest list. Not only are these stocks unpopular and therefore cheap, these short shares will have to be bought back in the future.