Has the shine worn off John Chen with BlackBerry Ltd investors?
Short interest in the company – the amount of shares borrowed and sold by speculators on the expectation the stock will fall and they can buy them back for a profit – fell dramatically soon after Mr. Chen took over as CEO of the Waterloo, Ont., smartphone company 13 months ago. As of mid-December 2013, there were 143.8 million shares held short on NASDAQ. That quickly fell to less than 100 million by January, and it has mostly stayed below that level since then, according to twice-monthly short position reports by NASDAQ.
But after clocking in at 99 million shares held short on Nov. 14, the number rose to 111.4 million as of the last trading day of last month, its highest recorded level since last December, when the stock was trading about 40 per cent below current levels (it closed Tuesday at $10.47 (U.S.), down 0.7 per cent).
Could investors be concerned about continuing weakness in the company's top and bottom line? Concerned its new products, the oversized Passport and the soon-to-be-released Classic, will disappoint? Or is this just a temporary blip and not the start of a trend?
Unfortunately, the short interest data tells us none of those things. But it does remind us the BlackBerry turnaround story is still in its very early days, and plenty of skeptics remain.