Short sell or Shorting a stock entails selling a borrowed stock in the hopes of repurchasing it at a lower price in the future and pocketing the difference. Short selling is a common aspect of an active trader’s strategy since it allows them to profit from both rising and falling markets. This article uses examples to explain what short selling is, why it’s significant, and the most important points to keep in mind when shorting stocks.


Short selling is the practice of borrowing shares through a broker, selling them at the current market price, and then buying them again at a lower price to return the shares to the broker.

1 – Short seller borrows shares from broker for a small fee
2 – Short seller sells the borrowed shares at the current market price
3 – The shares drop in value, as anticipated by the short seller
4 – Short seller buys back the same number of shares at the lower price & pockets the difference
5 – The short seller transfers the newly purchased shares back to the broker

What’s the point of shorting stocks? The answer to this issue is complex, but in general, shorting stocks allows you to profit from a drop in the price of a company.

Short selling may appear unethical to some because you are essentially betting that a company’s stock price will decline, potentially resulting in large-scale layoffs affecting many households. Others see this as an opportunity to profit from large-scale selling of unethical enterprises or to speculate on overvalued equities.

Apart from retail traders, there are also well-established hedge funds that specialize in short selling, or ‘shorting,’ various corporations. Some short sellers conduct research on companies that are claimed to have published financial statements with deceptive statistics or when there is enough evidence of dishonest business practices.

Before plunging into the world of short selling, it’s a good idea to brush up on the fundamentals of the stock market.


At this point, it’s important to distinguish between shorting (selling or taking a short position) via a broker that offers leverage and shorting (selling or taking a short position) in the underlying market (non-leveraged).

The usual strategy is as follows: a short seller borrows shares from a broker, sells the shares, and then buys them back at a discount to return the shares to the broker.

The introduction of leverage trading has simplified this procedure to the point that shorting a stock is as simple as hitting the ‘sell’ button on an online platform for the targeted stock.

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This method of shorting a stock entails:

  1. A regulated broker is one who: Trading with a regulated broker who offers little to no leverage is critical.
  2. Liquidity/Borrow: A broker must have adequate ‘borrow’ in order to short a stock. Borrowing means having a pool of liquidity providers prepared to lend the broker the necessary shares for its internal hedging needs. Brokers can no longer facilitate short selling in the absence of borrow and will disable the short selling capability until sufficient borrow returns to the market. Equities that are more liquid tend to lend more money than stocks that are less liquid.
  3. Set the following risk parameters: When you have enough money to borrow, run the numbers, set your stops and limits, and push the ‘sell’ button on the web platform.


When shorting a stock, you should take the following steps:

  1. Choose the necessary market.
  2. Confirm that the market is in a downward trend.
  3. Stop losses and limitations should be set in advance (risk-to-reward ratio)
  4. Start a short trade.
  5. Once the stop or limit is reached, the trade is finished.

To determine whether the stock is in a trending environment, traders can utilize the 200-day moving average or trend lines.

Using actual data in the form of a practical example might help to clarify the short selling process.


Let’s imagine a short seller wants to sell 10 shares of Apple Inc because he feels the stock will fall in value soon. If Apple’s share price is $200 and the margin requirement is 50%, the trader effectively controls $2000 ($200 x 10 shares) worth of Apple stock despite only putting up $1000 ($2000 x 0.5) in margin.

To generate a 1:3 risk-to-reward ratio, the short seller sets the target at $170 and the stop at $210. If the price reaches the objective, the short seller might make a profit of around $300 ($30 x 10 shares), less any financing costs and commissions.

$2000 is the nominal trade value.

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Margin is 50% ($1000).

$300 Gain after taking profit ($30 x 10 shares)

$100 ($10 x 10 shares) is the maximum possible loss.

Although this example depicts the ideal case, financial markets are frequently unexpected and do not move as predictably as they do in this example. As a result, traders should start using effective risk management strategies right once.


It’s critical to remember the following when learning how to short sell stocks:

  • Potential for limitless losses -Short bets with no stops have the potential for unlimited losses theoretically. There is no limit to how high a stock’s price might grow, which emphasizes the need of stops.
  • Short squeeze – A short squeeze occurs when short traders experience a price surge that is counter to expectations, resulting in losses that drive traders to buy (to conclude the deal) at a higher price and take a loss. As more short sellers buy to close their bets, the price continues to rise.

The US 500 (S&P 500) is used as an example of a short squeeze:

  • Unborrowable stock – In a bear market, even the most liquid stocks can become unborrowable, preventing fresh short positions from being opened. Traders should keep this in mind, but not to the point where it forces them into a hasty entry.


Shorting a stock has become a lot easier because to technological improvements, and it is now part of a trader’s skill set. Unlike the FX market, however, stock traders confront the unique difficulty of unborrowable stocks, which prevents any stock shorting. Only after doing the necessary technical and/or fundamental analysis and adhering to sound risk management techniques may traders consider beginning a short trade.

The top five takeaways for shorting a stock are as follows:

  1. When short selling stocks, it’s a good idea to go with a reputable, well-regulated broker.
  2. Trend: in the absence of a well-defined decline, traders should place entry orders at favorable levels in case the market moves in that direction. Shares have the potential to trade at a discount, especially if bad news leaks into the public arena. In such fast-moving markets, traders may miss a profitable entrance if they are away from their trading screens, which is where orders come in handy.
  3. Liquidity/Borrow: Is the stock trading on a major exchange with a large number of shares changing hands every day, often known as “free-float”? Short sellers have more borrowing options and more flexibility when it comes to shorting the stock when there is more liquidity.
  4. In addition to any overnight funding charges on open positions maintained overnight, short positions frequently incur “borrow charges” to allow short sellers to participate in the market. Before making a trade, it’s always a good idea to ask your broker about such a fee.
  5. Risk Management: Short trades have limitless losses but only a restricted gain (price can only go to zero), thus traders must use stops and limits to compensate for an inherently lopsided risk-reward payout.
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What are the best stocks to short right now?

The stocks that appeal to short sellers differ by industry and sector. As a result, there is no particular stock that traders should look to short. Short sellers use a variety of fundamental analytical tools, such as looking at revenue and debt-to-equity ratios, but they also consider other characteristics of the organization, such as the corporate governance structure and the caliber of senior management.

How long may you hold a stock in a short position?

A trader’s ability to keep long positions for an unlimited amount of time is unrestricted. This is due to the fact that shares are owned outright rather than being borrowed.

Shorting stocks, on the other hand, entails borrowing shares from a broker that can be recalled at any time. Traders will often be able to hold a short transaction for no more than a few days, depending totally on market conditions at the time and when the owner of the shares chooses to liquidate those same shares.

How to choose the position volume for a long-term portfolio?

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