Is there any way back for the short sellers?

Sun Feb 1, 2004



After a miserable 2003, some people are starting to believe that a revival in fortunes for the surviving 'bear' funds could be just around the corner

It may be no surprise that a burgeoning equity market in 2003 splashed cold water on returns for short sellers last year. But performance was especially chilly as junk stocks gained momentum and rallied, despite weak fundamentals, leaving many short sellers with average losses of 20%-30% by most estimates.

Last year's double-digit losses by short-biased funds were particularly poignant in contrast to those of the last bull market in 1999, in which many managers eked out modest, albeit positive, returns averaging 5%.

To be sure, the indices ended the year on fire. The NASDAQ gained roughly 50%, the S&P 500 picked up about 26% and the Dow surged ahead about 25%. But those stats tell only half of the story. To really understand...

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