18th Aug Flash Short – Update Week 2


21 March 2018

Tuesday was also covered in this article, which is repeated below for completeness – all the other days are analysed for the first time here.

Tuesday 29th August 2017

The first four trades at the start of trading were all 50K sells which led the Market Makers to immediately drop the bid to 9p. A buy of 150K at 8:21am hoovered up most of these sells and there was no subsequent selling following on from this rather obvious, albeit laughably small attempt at further flash shorting the market.

There are two ways of interpreting this early pattern

  1. We could be generous and suggest that these sells came from a Do-It-Yourself shorter ‘having a go’ after the multiple ShareProphets rants and tweets over the bank holiday weekend. Any DIY shorters, being late to the party (there never was one) will find they lose out even more when the inevitable short squeeze kicks off.
  2. If we were less forgiving we mighty simply see this as the same pattern that the original 18th Aug shorters tried, albeit it at a laughably smaller scale – an obvious test of the market after the disinformation campaign previously mentioned.

Let’s see what happened in the rest of the day and see if this makes a decision between these two options possible…

The Ask dropped around 10 o’clock – was this caused by further big sells ? – no not really – the two sells around then were only 45K and 12K in size – the MMs probably just dropped the bid to try and encourage some trading. Trading continued with buys and sells seemingly in balance until about half past two in the afternoon when a sequence of 4 buys amounting to a total of over 300K shares led to the Bid and Ask both being raised. A couple of round 100K sells at the end of the day, plus another 200K sell around 10:40am makes a total of 400K in sells of 100K multiples on top of the initial 4x50K.

If you add all these 50K & 100K multiple sells to the approx. 2.4M we already believe has been sold in the 18th August short then you reach a total of 3M – which might well be where the short stops if it were backed by the Darwin warrants at 8p.

The SP ended at 9.50p – flat on the day with a volume of 1.8M.

Wednesday 30th August 2017

At first glance it might look like there is a a similar attempt right at the start of trading to suppress the share price – however the trades that form a lowering staircase pattern before 8:30am are all less than 50K in size and do not arrive particularly rapidly – so they do not fit the pattern of the previous day. There is relatively regular selling after this until about 11:25am – by this point there would appear to have been approximately 200K more sells than buys – and this is how it would have appeared on the day – however on the following day a large Buy of 500K was reported at 11:23am and at a price of 9.875p. It would appear that the Market Makers are happy to report sells on time but not a big Buy – why – pretending that there are no buyers around might suggest that they were trying to encourage more buying, or that they are working on behalf of a large buyer.

A similar kind of pattern happens between 12 noon and 2pm – widely timed but fairly regular selling – the sell at 1:39pm being 200K in size – then something strange appears in the charts – nothing seem to happen for almost 2 hours and then when it does at 3:22pm the reported Bid shoots up from 9.25p to 9.75p and then immediately back down to 9.5p. There are actually two trades at precisely 3:22:28pm – buys of 50K and 79.6K and then 30 seconds later there is another buy of 250K – how can we understand the extreme behaviour of the Bid ?

  1. Simple misrepresentation – Raising the Bid from 9.25p to 9.75p purely on the arrival of a 50K and 79.6K Buy? That of course has the effect of showing those trades as sells – again. Dropping the Bid for the last of the trades – the biggest 250K – shows that as a mid-price sale so neither Buy or Sell. Was the 250K known about when the Bid was changed at 3:22:28 but the 250K not reported until 30 seconds later so that this little shimmy with the Bid could be executed ? Who knows – the end result is that it appears that there is more selling than buying, just like earlier in the day.  The MMs maybe want to cover up the existence of the 250K buyer.
  2. Might there actually be a significant buy yet to be reported in the period between 1:39pm and 3:22pm ? That might explain how the Bid could have risen up two notches by 3:22pm. Should this turn out to be true then this also suggests that the MMs maybe want to cover up the existence of a background buyer.

The SP ended at 9.75p – up 2.6% on the day on a volume of 2.2M.

Thursday 31st August 2017

Very quiet day – there is the strange period around 10 o’clock when the Ask is dropped at the point that a Buy is made  – this buy and the following one just after the hour are only relatively small ones – less than 25K, so the drop in Ask, which appears correctly reported, seems to make no sense – unless of course there is a sell to yet to be reported between 9:07am and 9.42am.

Again the early afternoon seems bereft of trading until about 3 o’clock when a series of usefully sized (50K-100K) buys appeared – in fact at the end of trading at 4:30pm Buys outnumbered Sells by 448K. The balance appeared to be restored after hours – when a 625K Sell appeared at 4:36pm and a Buy of 75K some 50 minutes later. Evidently even when the day is quiet for normal PIs the market makers have to scramble around late in the day to find shares to make up for the ones sold during the day.

The SP ended the day at 9.875p up 1.3% on the day, despite a pretty low volume of only 1.4M.

Friday 1st September 2017

Evidently the buying activity late in the day on Thursday was just the start of things to come. Trading was almost exclusively buying before 10am – perhaps because the news about the possible short squeeze had started to reach a wider, possibly trading audience. By 9am Buys were 845K but Sells just 11K. In the next 4 minutes 810,000 shares were sold into the market, in 6 separate trades of multiples of 10K.

Organised shorting – or simply opportunistic selling ? Well to get multiple sellers to respond in just 4 minutes would seem to stretch credibility somewhat. Might a single seller have responded by breaking up their shares trades like this – that too seems rather hard to believe. We might conclude that this may be the first sign of the existing shorters further extending their short and trying to reign in the rapid rises (+5%) of early friday. Is it simply a coincidence that this happened just at the point that the Darwin 10p warrants were in-the-money ? (See here for explanation of  being ‘in-the-money’.)

The possibility that the first short, having reached approximately 3M depth, and potentially being backed by the 8p Darwin warrants, now starts being extended just at the point that the SP breaches 10p obviously raises the possibility that the shorters are also using the 10p Darwin warrants. With 5-6 days without a ShareProphets article whilst the SP was below 10p – if we now suddenly receive more attention from their site, or trolls on the LSE board, we might conclude that this is indeed the case. With the clear exposure of the 18th Aug flash short attempt we may expect that subsequent short selling will not be attempted in quite such an obvious way as it was on the afternoon of the 18th August.

Carrying on after the last of these sells at 9:24am there is another wave of buying – almost 60oK shares before 10:02. The two trades at 10:01:39 and 10:01:50 – right at the bottom of the Bid range – are almost definitely a combined Bed&ISA trade, so have no Nett influence. Immediately after, at 10:03, 10:04 and 10:05 there is a short sequence of sells – 60K, 80K, 30K if what looks like a have-a-go independent shorter perhaps trying their luck. A similar pattern of repeated selling also occurred at 12:03:16, 12:03:35 , 12:04:34 PM – again with only modestly sized sub-60K trades, but this time none multiples of 10K.

The semi-organised blocks of selling – the initial burst which we ascribe to the main short, and the two have-a-go shorting feints seemed to have had no effect in holding back the share buying – after 10am Buys outnumbered sells again by 1.1M to 1.0M.

The share price finished at 10.25p up 3.8% on the day with volume also increasing significantly to 4.6M


Buys – Sells
TBP estimated Buys – Sells Potential Shorting Activity Comments
Tuesday 29-8-17 Level + 844,255 + 214, 061 4x50K + 2x200K
Wednesday 30-8-17 +2.6% – 2,389,104 + 315,373 Possibly trades  to be reported
Thursday 31-8-17 +1.3% – 585,625 – 101,433
Friday 1-9-17 +3.8% – 305,877 + 734,179 9am – 6 trades total 810K Possibly sells to be reported
Total 7.9% -2.44M + 1.2M

Like last week the nett balance between Buys and Sell is shown for ADVFN – which again looks to show significantly more sells than buys – on a share that has appreciated by almost 8% in a week ?!? This is not reasonable – our analysis gives a balance that seems a lot closer to reality.

It looks highly likely that there are more delayed trades yet to be reported, for Friday certainly, and maybe also Wednesday – as the nett totals of shares outstanding look significant on both days. Put simply the MMs cannot sell 3/4 Million shares that they do not have (shorter’s can but that is a different story.)


Tuesday appeared to show a minor short sequence first thing with circumstantial evidence later on that the original short from the 18th Aug increased from 2.4M to about 3M.

Wednesday showed no more obvious shorting attempts but circumstantial evidence that there is a big background buyer and that maybe big Buys are yet to be reported.

Thursday – mostly quiet except for a burst in buying activity right at the end of the day.

Friday appears to be very interesting on a number of counts:

  1. There is much more active trading, starting from the bell – evidently the news about a potential short squeeze has made it out to traders.
  2. There is some evidence of the main short now being extended at SP above 10p – this is perhaps an indication that the Darwin 10p warrants are also being used for backing by the shorters. To risk a short when the SP is quite so close to 10p is a dangerous strategy for them – this is described in scenario 4 of  ‘A short story about a hedge’ – if they get an average selling price of less than 10p on the shares they sell – they risk having to find real cash to pay for the warrants to close the short – this may entail them selling a car quickly on we-buy-any-car-dot-com … or perhaps a body part –  a quick sale never gets fair value.
  3. Despite this selling activity Buys again outnumbered Sells and the rate of increase of the SP increased to one of its largest values (+3.8% on the day) in the last two weeks.

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