Bears make money much faster than bulls. That’s because markets take much longer to rise than to fall. Remember, pushing up markets requires capital; on the other hand markets can fall under their own weight.

J.C. Penney JCP

That said, shorting is a much more risky game than going long. That’s because the risk on a short gone wrong is unlimited, while the most you can lose on your long play is the entire value of your investment, assuming the stock flames down to zero.

Given the torrid pace US stocks have set this year, short-sellers could be an endangered species, one would think. Not so – though bears may have been on the back foot this year, they were very much alive and kicking judging from this analysis of the best short deals seen in 2013 from The Tell, a market news and analysis blog that relied on data from Markit.

Gold miners

Companies such as Allied Nevada Gold Corp. (NYSEMKT:ANV) and Kirkland Lake Gold Inc. (LON:KGI) were short targets after the price of the yellow metal hit the skids this year. Allied Nevada lost 88% and Kirkland was down 59% this year.

Biopharmaceuticals

Bears benefited from their shorts on Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARIA) which plunged 76% after the Fed blocked the company’s leukemia treatment. Vical Incorporated (NASDAQ:VICL) paid the price for regulatory problems in connection with trials of its melanoma drug – its stock fell 63%.

J.C. Penney Company drops

ORBITE ALUMINAE (OTCMKTS:EORBF) raked it in for short sellers when it fell 84% during the year. Angie’s List Inc is down 47% after declaring disappointing results in October.

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) is down 13% on an average basis considering the fluctuations in its price.

Aside from the insights we received from the Markit analysis above, what are shorters doing now?

Major shorts as a percentage of float

We used data from the WSJ to identify short positions that were higher than 30% of the company’s aggregate float as on November 15, 2013. We then looked at only those that had gone up by double digits in percentage terms, and tracked the likely trigger for those shorts.

Here’s what we came up with:

Company Symbol 11/15/13 10/31/13 Change % Change % Float Days to cover Average daily volume Trigger Link
Molycorp Inc (NYSE:MCP) MCP

6,05,20,271

5,04,57,609

1,00,62,662

19.9

33.8

9

67,11,250

Largest known rare earth mineral deposit discovered http://www.pcreml.com/assets/pool/documents/SRE%20announcement%204Dec2013.pdf
Millennial Media, Inc. (NYSE:MM) MM

1,03,60,055

89,13,963

14,46,092

16.2

35.5

4

27,26,918

Profit misses after higher payments to ad partners http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/13/us-millenialmedia-results-idUSBRE9AC1AQ20131113
J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) JCP

9,12,40,768

7,90,47,619

1,21,93,149

15.4

30.3

3

3,48,95,568

Kyle Bass Says He’s Dumped His J.C. Penney Stake And The Stock’s Taking A Beating http://www.businessinsider.in/Kyle-Bass-Says-Hes-Dumped-His-JC-Penney-Stake-And-The-Stocks-Taking-A-Beating/articleshow/26920283.cms
Received a letter of inquiry from the SEC on Oct. 7 regarding its “liquidity, cash position, and debt and equity financing,” as well as its recent stock offering. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1166126/000116612613000100/jcp-11022013x10q.htm
Aeropostale Inc (NYSE:ARO) ARO

2,18,32,538

1,97,55,400

20,77,138

10.5

30.7

8

26,31,444

Misses by $0.05 EPS, misses on revenue http://seekingalpha.com/news-article/8368181-aeropostale-reports-results-for-third-quarter-of-fiscal-2013

Keep your eye on these companies, for they are in bear territory.