Ferrari short sellers face higher costs; shares in short supply

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Short sellers waiting for recently listed shares of Ferrari NV RACE.N to swerve off the road may soon face higher costs to maintain their bets on the luxury sportscar maker.

A Ferrari logo is seen on a Ferrari sports car outside the New York Stock Exchange October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Nearly all of the Ferrari shares available for borrowing by short sellers have been lent out, pushing the cost of borrowing the few remaining shares sharply higher, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of research at S3 Partners, which advises investors.

“No one can go and short a big block of stock right now. Right now, we’re literally talking about dribs and drabs and the end piece of the pot roast,” Dusaniwsky said.

Ferrari surged in its October trading debut in the United States after the Italian supercar maker priced its shares at the top of the range amid heavy investor demand.

But its stock has since fallen 8 percent from its IPO price, with some investors skeptical that the small-volume, capital-intensive carmaker will be able to sustain the high valuations of a luxury goods brand.

Short sellers borrow shares and then sell them, hoping to buy them back at a lower price and then return them to their owner. In the meantime, they must also pay interest to the owner.

Short sellers with existing bets against Ferrari have recently been paying an annual interest rate between 17 percent and 30 percent to borrow the carmaker’s shares, according to S3’s data.

But with so little supply, new borrowers are being charged as much as 90 percent, and current borrowers will eventually see the rates they are charged move toward that level, Dusaniwsky said.

Controlled by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Ferrari put just 9.1 percent of its shares on the market, limiting the supply of shares to potential short sellers.

Short interest in Ferrari rose from 1.3 percent of outstanding shares in mid-November to 2.1 percent in mid-December, according to Nasdaq data. But as a percentage of Ferrari’s shares available for trading, short interest in mid-December was 20.9 percent.

On Tuesday, Ferrari’s stock rose 3.19 percent to $47.91 after S&P Dow Jones Indices said the company would be added to the S&P Europe 350 and S&P Euro indexes.

(This story corrects company name in the second paragraph to S3 Partners, not S3.)

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Bernadette Baum