Short sellers have made a broad range of gambles that many large stocks will lose value before the end of the year, which indicates that they believe that markets will tumble in December.
A large number of mega-cap stocks had sharp interests in their short ratios in the period which ended November 15.
The short interest in Ford Motor (NYSE: F), which has run up on optimism about sales of its new models and the company’s ability to handle its huge debt, rose 15% to 324.7 million shares. Weakened wireless company Sprint-Nextel (NYSE: S) will not be able to compete against AT&T (NYSE T) and Verizon Wireless, if short sellers are right. Its short interest rose 52% to 131 million. Also-ran handset company Motorola (NYSE: MOT), which competes with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), saw its short interest increase 36% to 43.8 million.
Banks mostly held their own, but the short interest in what is considered the weakest money center bank, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), rose 12% to 110.9 million. The prospects of the oil industry as year-end approaches are also bleak if short sellers are right. Shares short in Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) rose 29% to 38.7 million.
Short sellers are avoiding the tech sector. Shares short in Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) fell 7% to 49.8 million. The short interest in Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), which recently reported good earnings, fell 13% to 41.6 million. The short interest in Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) dropped 16% to 39.2 million and shares sold short in Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) fell 13% to 28.6 million.
Data from NYSE and NASDAQ
Douglas A. McIntyre