It's common knowledge that Tesla is among the most shortest stocks around. Jockeying for the top spot with the likes of Amazon and Apple, companies with 20x the market cap. Each price fluctuation spawns countless headlines and as many forgettable articles about the "billions" that have been made or lost in short span by those betting against the company.
The underlying Nasdaq published short interest data evidently looks at the "total" short position and ignores any long position that the short seller might simultaneously hold in Tesla stock. i.e. these are gross short positions rather than net. And then we don't get to see who are the actual holders of the short positions. Instead we are subjected to the media musings of a cast of self-identified short sellers whose portfolio sizes range from tiny to small, and who as such cannot possibly account for a material portion of the money that we are told is short Tesla.
form 13F and which allows us to look at individual investor holdings of stock, call options and put options. Peaking behind the curtain at such data we find that the top put holder also happens to be the top call holder. The same is true of the number 2 put holder. This is a surprising result with potential implications for everything that is written about short selling of Tesla.
here. Many of the Tesla short sellers identified on television or in the pages of Seeking Alpha are the holders of put options.
Importantly, buying put options and direct short selling are not unrelated since the counterparty to a purchase of put options may offset their exposure by themselves establishing a direct short position. Therefore, to the extent that a short position is established via put options, and the counterparty offsets their exposure through a direct short position we should expect their to be overlap between the Nasdaq short interest data and the SEC put data.
It's not a question that can be answered definitively since the Nasdaq data are completely opaque. However, viewing the long term trends in each source does allow us to make an educated guess.
This suggests that not only are short positions and their reported wins and losses greatly exaggerated in the countless articles on this subject, but they may even be directionally incorrect at times!
Last, there remains the curious question of why the largest short position (put holder) would also be the largest call holder?
We don't get to see the durations and strike prices of SIG's options. Nor do we get to see the details of any call or put options that SIG has written. But at an aggregate level from what we do see it appears that SIG has most recently been betting on price declines *or* volatility. Bets which would probably have rewarded in recent days: