Hedgies Are Short a Huge Chunk of Dow ETF’s Holdings

February 21st at 3:09pm by Todd Shriber

Hedge funds have large short positions in some of America’s most venerable companies in what could be an ominous sign for the $11.5 billion SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSEArca: DIA).

“Goldman Sachs’ new Hedge Fund Monitor report, which looks at 783 funds with nearly $2 trillion in gross equity positions, lists the 50 favorite short positions among the world’s largest fund managers,” according to Business Insider.

Reducing the list to the 23 stocks most shorted by hedge funds turns up plenty of DIA components, which in aggregate combine for a sizable portion of the ETF’s weight. [Dow's Decline Shows Index Flaws]

Chevron (NYSE: CVX) is No. 22 on the list with a short interest of $1.5 billion. Rival Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) is the fourth spot with short interest valued at $4.7 billion, according to Goldman.

Interestingly, news of elevated short interest in the two largest U.S. oil companies comes just as the energy sector is entering a period of seasonal strength and as ETFs such as the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) have recently started showing signs of life.[Time to Buy Energy ETFs]

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) also have short interests valued at $1.5 billion while Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) checks in at fourteenth on the Goldman list with a short interest of $1.7 billion.  Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), the world’s largest retailer, and General Electric (NYSE: GE) check in at Nos. 12 and 13 on the list with short interests valued at $1.9 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, BI reports.

Hedge funds are also short Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) to the tune of $2.2 billion and $2.5 billion. Both figures pale in comparison to the $3.6 billion short interest in Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, and that looks small compared to the $4.7 billion hedge funds are short worth of IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Hedge funds are not too fussed on telecom stocks with a combined short interest of nearly $10 billion in Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T). Those stocks combine for 22.6% of the iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF (NYSEArca: IYZ).

Semiconductor giant Intel (NasdaqGM: INTC) is the most shorted stock on the Goldman list with short interest valued at $5.1 billion.

Four of the aforementioned stocks – IBM, Chevron, Caterpillar and Exxon – are top-10 holdings in DIA. Overall, the Dow stocks on the Goldman list combine for 40.3% of DIA’s weight.

SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF

Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of GE, Intel, Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble.

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