Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, who famously made millions betting against British banks ahead of the credit crunch, has described Home Retail (Other OTC: HMRLF - news) as “challenged”, as new data showed the group was the most shorted company on the FTSE All-Share index.
Home Retail , which owns Homebase, is trying to transform its struggling Argos division into an online business rather than a catalogue operation. The company said in October it wanted to boost sales at Argos to £4.5bn in 2018, up from about £3.9bn last year.
Odey Asset Management, the firm founded by Mr Odey, has a small net short position of 0.5pc in Home Retail, Financial Services Authority data showed.
“It’s definitely a challenged business model,” Mr Odey told The Sunday Telegraph when asked about the fund’s reasoning for the position.
Short-sellers have been targeting Home Retail over the past month, with the proportion of shares out on loan, a proxy for short-selling, jumping 32pc, according to Markit data.
About 20pc of the company’s shares have been borrowed, the most on the FTSE All-Share index, where the average is 1.3pc.
A spokesman for Home Retail declined to comment.
“Even if they see some respite over Christmas with electrical sales, which is probably likely, I’m still pretty negative on the outlook for Home Retail,” said Seymour Pierce analyst, Freddie George.