NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The natural bias of the market is upward, and so short-sellers are going against consensus at their own peril when they bet against a stock, said Richard Teitelbaum, author of The Most Dangerous Trade.
"You are also open to short squeezes where long investors gang up, buy up stock and run it up, and you are going to be forced to cover over a period of time, and that can cost you a lot of money," Teitelbaum said.
For example, Teitelbaum profiled Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management in his book. Ackman made a splash in late 2012 when he announced his Herbalife (HL) - Get Report short, sending the stock plummeting to what seemed like an easy victory and substantial profit.
Unfortunately for Ackman, Herbalife fought back with vigor. Other hedge-fund managers like Carl Icahn and Dan Loeb jumped into the fray and forced a short squeeze. Not one to back down, Ackman vowed to "take it to the end of the earth" and that battle continues to rage on.
"Herbalife was very successful in attracting people who disagreed with Bill Ackman," Teitelbaum said.
Teitelbaum refers to Jim Chanos, president and founder of Kynikos Associates, as the "dean" of short-selling. Chanos sold short shares of energy trading giant Enron throughout 2001, increasing his short position as more information about Enron's sketchy dealings surfaced. Kynikos pocketed a huge sum from its Enron short, and Chanos became well known for his early detection of Enron's problems.
"He identifies different short situations that he can profit from, and he is very good at executing," Teitelbaum said.
In the past year, Chanos has made it known that he is bearish on China because of its growing debt load, saying investors should avoid betting on Chinese companies. As Teitelbaum discusses in his book, Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research has successfully bet against individual Chinese companies for years, taking down stocks of companies such as Sino-Forest by using his accounting skills.
"He was very good at picking apart financial statements and finding out they weren't all they were supposed to be," Teitelbaum said.
Finally, Teitelbaum lauded the versatility of short-seller and Real Money Pro contributor Doug Kass, highlighting his versatility. Kass correctly went long in February 2009, effectively calling the bottom of the post-financial crisis bear market.
"He has the conviction to go short names like Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) - Get Report and Apple (AAPL) - Get Report, and he's been very successful at it," Teitelbaum said.