Europe’s Most-Shorted Stocks Surge, Led by Evotec, Pearson

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Some of Europe’s most-shorted stocks surged again on Wednesday, led by Evotec SE and Pearson Plc, in an echo of a similar rally in the U.S., where retail investors have battled against short sellers by piling into names like GameStop Corp.

Shares in Evotec surged as much as 30% on Wednesday after the drug discovery and development firm won a $28.6 million U.S. contract, though it pared the gain to 2.4%. Bearish speculators have sold short 17.4% of the company’s shares available for trading, according to data from IHS Markit Ltd. The stock jumped 10% on Tuesday.

Europe’s Most-Shorted Stocks Surge, Led by Evotec, Pearson

Education publisher Pearson, which has short interest of 15% of free float, jumped as much as 19% on Wednesday. Other heavily shorted stocks that gained included real estate companies Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which rose as much as 17%, and France’s Klepierre SA, up 22%. Polish video-game maker CD Projekt SA and health-equipment maker Ambu A/S, which also reported estimate-beating results, each jumped 15%.

A basket of Europe’s most-shorted stocks marketed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. rose as much as 4.2% Wednesday and headed for its highest close in almost 11 months.

The moves in Europe are less extreme than those in the U.S., where videogame retailer GameStop has rallied 685% this year and BlackBerry Ltd. has soared 185% as day traders touted them in a Reddit forum called wallstreetbets.

The rally in the European stocks may reflect institutional investors reversing bearish bets on them, said John Moore, head of trading at Berkeley Capital Wealth Management.

“A lot of it is people closing out their short position,” he said by phone. “I think partly it is to do with the Reddit story, but when we see moves like this in some of the bigger names, as in Pearson, that tends to be from an institutional level.”

In Europe, Finland’s Nokia Oyj has also attracted the attention of traders in a Reddit forum, with its shares up 15% this week. Nokia, which doesn’t have a significant amount of short interest, rose as much as 4.8% on Wednesday.

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