Naked-Shorts Ban Lifts Open Text Shares

An analyst says the new rule may have lifted shares of the software company today.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Short-sellers scrambling to cover their positions in Open Text (OTEX) - Get Report may have lifted that stock in trading Thursday.

Shares in the Waterloo, Ont. business-software developer rose by $4.77, or 16.5%, to $33.61 at one point, before falling back to $32.01, up 11%, in recent trading.

In the absence of any other news on the company, Benchmark analyst Mark Schappel attributed the move to the

Securities and Exchange Commission's

new rule against

"naked" short-selling

, which took effect Thursday. "What you're seeing today is because of the new short-selling rule."

"We think the stock is benefiting from the SEC's emergency order protecting investors against naked short-selling," he also wrote in a note. Benchmark does not make a market in shares of Open Text.

Trading desks indicate that either investors are covering naked short positions or clearing houses and prime brokers are buying back naked shorts from their brokers, according to Schappel.

If the price move is based only on correcting short positions to comply with the new rules, the effect will be a short-term and Open Text shares may fall back to their previous level in coming days. The consensus one-year target price is $41, according to Thomson Reuters.

Open Text has always attracted a large short position, Schappel says.

According to Nasdaqtrader.com, Open Text's short interest is 17.19 million shares, or 34% of shares outstanding, effective Aug. 29.

Schappel also attributed a big jump in the price of newspaper publisher

Media General

(MEG)

to the rule change. That stock was up $7.09, or 81.9%, to $15.75 in recent trading on triple its usual volume.

Investors covering their short positions on these stocks are likely taking losses, Schappel says.

He maintains a sell rating on Open Text, "which is one of the reasons a lot of people are short it," he says. "I have questions about the company's ability to generate organic revenue growth."

He also questions how much of the developer's actual growth is due to benefits from currency exchange rates. Much of Open Text's revenue is generated outside North America, he says. "The management team is not very transparent about that."

Most software companies will break it out the net currency effect when asked, Schappel says. "The Open Text management team does not."

The company did not respond to a request for comments. It is expected to report first-quarter earnings in October for the period ending in September.