Short Sellers Bet on Death of National Bank of Greece

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Just last week that we showed how the Democratic Left party in Greece was withdrawing from the current government coalition. While this alone might not have forced a vote of confidence to determine whether the parliament would be disbanded for yet another special election, the action is one of several in recent weeks that signal that the capital raising efforts by Greece may not be enough for it to be in compliance with the caveats of Greece’s bailout. The short sellers took it out on National Bank of Greece S.A. (NYSE: NBG).

The short interest as of June 14 jumped by 439% to 7,378,335 shares, versus 1,367,025 shares as of May 31. While this is only two days to cover, there are many things working against NBG here. This was the third highest NYSE gainer on the percentage rise in the short interest this time around.

The Greek bank has big operation exposure in Turkey. The riots and protests there hurt Turkish markets, and this had been one of the only bright spots for NBG before this year.

NBG did a recapitalization and a reverse stock split. The recapitalization hurt existing shareholders with dilution against future earnings. When traders see a reverse split they generally think it is merely a chance to short sell a stock at a higher price.

The last thing is that NBG was hitting 52-week lows in New York ADR trading. Stocks that hit new 52-week lows tend to keep hitting new 52-week lows.

Shares were up 2.6% on Wednesday in early morning, trading at $4.22 against an adjusted 52-week trading range of $4.05 to $32.50. The bets are on that things will get worse rather than better here.