Singapore Airlines now the most shorted stock in the republic

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Bearish bets have risen sharply on Singapore Airlines Ltd shares, making it the most shorted stock in the city-state as the carrier posted its biggest-ever quarterly loss in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Investors have become increasingly pessimistic about holding the stock, with short interest as a percentage of carrier’s free-float shares more than quadrupling to 15.5% since mid-March, according to data from IHS Markit.

The company’s stock price has dropped 40% this year, almost double the decline in the nation’s equity benchmark.

The carrier recorded a net loss of S$732 million in the quarter ended March compared with a profit in the year-earlier period, as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out demand and the company suffered fuel hedging losses, it said in a statement Thursday.

The company does not expect to recover services to pre-virus levels in the next 12 to 18 months, the airline’s executives said in a briefing on Friday.

“The shorts are rising because of the uncertain macro environment amid Covid-19,” said Ajith Kom, an analyst at UOB Kay Hian Pte. “SIA’s cash flows will continue to bleed” this quarter and beyond, he added.

The short positions on Singapore’s national carrier are rising at a time when some traders who used Societe Generale SA’s leverage certificates to short the stock got wiped out on May 6 as the carrier’s share price surged after an adjustment for a rights offer.