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Short float definition

  • January 28 2019
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Invest

Short float definition

By Louise Chan
January 28 2019

Investors who wish to personally manage their shares portfolio will encounter various share market metrics that can guide them in determining how a company’s share price could move. One of these guide metrics is called the short float or short percent of float.

Short float definition

Short float definition

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  • January 28 2019
  • Share

Investors who wish to personally manage their shares portfolio will encounter various share market metrics that can guide them in determining how a company’s share price could move. One of these guide metrics is called the short float or short percent of float.

Short float definition

Short float is defined as the percentage of shares in the market that are shorted in relation to all shares in a float. Many active traders consider this percentage because it can indicate whether they can make a profit from trading a share. Beginners can also benefit from understanding short floats.

Nest Egg provides a quick guide to help beginner investors understand the significance of a short float and the information it provides about a share.

What is ‘float’?

Float refers to the total number or percentage of authorised shares that has already been made available in the share market for public trading.

There are different types of float shares and each one has conditions and rights attached. Nest Egg’s What are the different types of shares? explains the differences in further detail.

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What is ‘shorting’?

Shorting refers to an investment strategy that involves borrowing shares from a broker and selling them for a profit then buying the same number of shares to return to the broker. However, the strategy isn’t as simple because shorting involves betting that a company’s share price will go down then borrowing the shares to sell at its current high price.

If the investor was correct and the share price declines, they would purchase the same number of shares at a lower price to return to their broker. This scenario would result in a profit once the investor closes their position.

However, if the share price increases and the broker calls for the investor to return the borrowed shares, the investor would have no choice but to purchase higher priced shares to close their position. This would result in loss for the investor.

What information does a short float reflect?

Short float shows the percentage of shares that are shorted relative to the number of float shares and this percentage reflects the market sentiment about the underlying company.

Since investors who short shares assume that the share price will decline, a high short percent of float implies that investors are either bearish on a company or they believe it is overvalued and they intend to profit off its potential decline by selling high.

How can beginners benefit from the short float information?

Beginner investors must learn that not all price movements are indicative of the underlying company’s performance simply because many experts are executing the trades. They have to be wary of the potential intent behind a price surge or decline before joining the bandwagon because they may end up being swept away by mere market sentiments.

Instead of blindly following a trend, beginners should consider searching for information regarding a company’s float shares and the proportion which is shorted—or those that were simply borrowed and sold. This percentage would give them the idea that a company may soon see a drop in their share price and that they could incur loss.

However, it’s also inadvisable to rely solely on the short float when making investment decisions because it is only one of the many metrics experts use.

Nest Egg recommends that investors practice due diligence before making an assumption and executing trades over a share’s price movement.

Short float definition
Short float definition
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About the author

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Louise is a content producer for Momentum Media’s nestegg who likes keeping up-to-date with all the ways people can work towards financial stability in 2019. She also enjoys turning complex information into easy-to-digest, practical tips to help those who want to achieve financial independence.

About the author

Louise is a content producer for Momentum Media’s nestegg who likes keeping up-to-date with all the ways people can work towards financial stability in 2019. She also enjoys turning complex information into easy-to-digest, practical tips to help those who want to achieve financial independence.

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