DLR: Insiders vs. Shorts

The most recent short interest data was recently released by the NASDAQ for the 11/15/2013 settlement date, and Digital Realty Trust, Inc. ( DLR) is one of the most shorted stocks of the Russell 3000, based on 13.35 "days to cover" versus the median component at 4.21. There are a number of ways to look at short data, but one metric that we find particularly useful is the "days to cover" because it considers both the total shares short and the average daily volume of shares typically traded. The number of shares short is then divided by the average daily volume, to express the total number of trading days it would take to close out all of the open short positions if every share traded represented a short position being closed.

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In the case of Digital Realty Trust, Inc. ( DLR), the total short interest at the 11/15/2013 settlement date was 29,681,919 shares, which compares to the average daily trading volume of just 2,223,524 shares, for a "days to cover" ratio of 13.35.

When short sellers eventually cover their positions, by definition there must be buying activity because a share that is currently sold short must be purchased to be covered. At the present levels of short interest, if from this point forward every single DLR share traded represented a short position being closed, then at the average daily volume of 2,223,524 shares it would only be during the 14th trading day that every short position would be closed.

So it would stand to reason that should some unexpectedly good news come out, and short sellers did not have 14 days of patience but instead wanted to cover their short positions very suddenly, that situation could result in sending the stock higher until the higher price produces enough sellers to generate the necessary volume to close out those positions quickly.

Digital Realty Trust, Inc. ( DLR) has something relatively rare for a stock with this much short interest, that being insiders taking the other side of the trade. Looking back over the trailing six month period, DLR has seen 7 different instances of insider buying, as summarized by the table below:

Purchased Insider Title Shares Price/Share Value
08/01/2013 Laurence A. Chapman Director 12,200 $54.58 $665,900.00
09/10/2013 A. William Stein CFO & Chief Investment Officer 10,000 $52.94 $529,384.00
11/01/2013 Joshua A. Mills SVP & General Counsel 5,200 $48.19 $250,602.56
11/01/2013 Laurence A. Chapman Director 10,000 $47.87 $478,700.00
11/08/2013 Laurence A. Chapman Director 10,000 $46.02 $460,200.00
11/15/2013 Edward F. Sham Sr. Vice President, Controller 4,225 $47.38 $200,180.50
11/15/2013 Dennis E. Singleton Director 5,784 $47.49 $274,693.31
12/02/2013 William G. Laperch Director 2,000 $45.80 $91,600.00
12/03/2013 Scott E. Peterson Chief Acquisitions Officer 4,000 $44.00 $176,000.00

Below is a chart showing the "days to cover" for DLR over time:

Loading+chart++2013+TickerTech.com

And looking at the chart below, DLR's low point in its 52 week range is $43.04 per share, with $74.00 as the 52 week high point — that compares with a last trade of $46.85.

Digital Realty Trust, Inc. Moving Averages Chart

In recent trading, shares of Digital Realty Trust, Inc. ( DLR) were changing hands at $46.85/share.

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