Hedge funds short food, beverage and tobacco stocks amid soaring bond yields -Goldman Sachs

By Nell Mackenzie

LONDON (Reuters) – Global hedge funds last week sold food, beverage and tobacco company stocks at the fastest pace in 11 weeks, a Goldman Sachs note said, as these stocks, viewed as a proxy for bonds, could not match the recent surge in U.S. Treasury yields.

Hedge fund short bets in consumer staples in the week to Friday Oct. 13 hit the highest amount seen in three months and ranked among the highest levels hit in the past five years, said the note from Goldman Sachs prime brokerage, which serves hedge funds.

Short selling bets the price of a stock will fall.

Shares of U.S. consumer staples have fallen about 10% so far this year as these stocks, which normally deliver consistent and higher dividends than U.S. Treasuries, were no match for recent soaring government bond yields.

U.S. 2-year Treasury yields rose about 15 basis points from Tuesday Oct. 10 to Friday the 13th. They continued their rise on Monday, climbing about 1.5 basis points.

The consumer staples sector, selling products such as household goods, alcohol and tobacco products, in the week ending Oct. 13 made up the weakest performing group in the S&P 500 and was also the most net sold U.S. sector on Goldman Sachs’ prime brokerage trading book, said the bank.

Short sales outpaced long buys about 4 to 1, said Goldman Sachs.

The selling took the form of short bets on companies that sell food, beverage and tobacco products and the exit of long positions in household products and food products.

(Reporting by Nell Mackenzie, Graphics by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Dhara Ranasignhe and Deborah Kyvrikosaios)