If you are looking for a short-term stock play, but want the back-up of turning the position into a long-term investment, you might look at the holdings of an outstanding investor that have the potential for a short-term spike.
is widely considered to be the greatest investor of all-time as a result of his outstanding track record with his
( BRKA). However, perhaps a bit surprisingly, there are 10 stocks that Buffett owns with short ratios -- the number of days it takes to cover a short position based on the average daily volume of shares traded -- of three or more. You can see the
The Buffett stock with the greatest short ratio is
, the gypsum and building materials manufacturer. Its short ratio is 8.2, which means that it would take more than eight days for the short sellers to cover their positions, based on the number of shares that trade on a daily basis. If the short sellers want (or need) to cover their positions quickly, the price of the stock can shoot up rapidly, especially since 18.2% of the float has been shorted. USG has a
price-to-earnings ratio of less than eight times trailing earnings.
Of course, do your homework. As our own Jim Cramer recently pointed out: "USG is deeply leveraged to the housing market, and you know I am a bear on housing. ... Housing's going lower and subprime is
not in great shape." For the rest of Cramer's take on Buffett stocks, including
, check out
To watch Farnoosh Torabi's video take of this column, click here
Another high short-ratio stock that Buffett owns is
, the tax preparation company. The stock is currently carrying a short ratio of 7 with 7.3% of the float shorted. The stock also has a yield of 2.5% but H&R has a P/E of nearly 32 times trailing earnings, so many would argue it's not cheap (hence the short ratio). And just this week, former
Securities and Exchange Commission
chief-turned-activist investor Richard Breeden, of Breeden Partners, turned his attention to H&R Block.
Breeden will seek election to the company's board, along with two other individuals to be announced by Breeden Partners later this week. "While H&R Block is widely known for its market-leading tax preparation services, its efforts to diversify into activities including subprime mortgage lending, securities brokerage and banking have resulted in substantial lost shareholder value," Breeden noted.
"H&R Block's stock has significantly underperformed the
S&P 500 Index
for the five years ended June 15. As shareholders, we believe that five years is long enough to wait for H&R Block to achieve attractive returns for shareholders. This board needs fresh perspectives and new energy, which we intend to supply, to tackle the company's problems."
So things could get interesting now. Breeden recently had success targeting
, winning a board seat and pushing for a strategic review, which the company said has yielded several nonbinding, preliminary proposals to acquire the company. Other stocks Breeden owns include
Bausch & Lomb
( BOL) and
And finally we decided to check out the
Washington Post Co.
. It is one of the highest priced stocks, trading above $775 per share. It also happens to be another long-term core holding of Warren Buffett with a fairly high short ratio of 6. It has a yield of 1.1% and a P/E of 23. It has a huge brand name going for it, but many shorts point to the declining trend in the newspaper business. Another interesting set-up.
Again, these could be opportunities if you are looking for a short-term play, but like the back-up of them becoming longer-term investments where you can feel comfortable that Buffett and other pros own them. You can see the rest of the