Hemang Desai, Srinivasan Krishnamurthy, and Kumar Venkataraman
Publication year: 2007

We examine whether information arbitrageurs attempt to exploit the return predictability in valuation and fundamental signals. Using a unique database of short sale recommendations, we document that firm fundamentals, such as accruals, sales growth, gross-margin and SG&A, and valuation indicators, such as book-to-market ratio and return momentum, contain valuable information correlated with the trading behavior of short sellers. We show that our empirical model explaining short seller recommendations is successful in predicting both short interest and future returns for a broader sample in an out-of-sample period. We present an important application of the model in distinguishing between valuation and arbitrage-motivated short selling. Overall, these findings present additional insights into the decision process of short sellers and validate the importance of fundamental analysis in the information arbitrage process.

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