Short sellers continue to hold large positions not only in troubled companies like J.C. Penney, but also in blue chips like Bank of America and AT&T. As of May 15, the most recent settlement date, the six most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange all had short positions of more than 78 million shares. For J.C. Penney, that was about 26% of the float, while at Advanced Micro Devices it was near 18%.
The number of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short decreased by more than 7 million in the period to about 178.55 million. That was the lowest level of short interest since the end of February, and it represents 3.4% of the float. It would take more than seven days to cover all short positions. AT&T is currently pursuing a takeover of DirecTV.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) had a 3.1% decline in short interest to 114.03 million shares by the middle of the month. That totaled 18.0% of the company’s float but was the lowest number of shares short so far this year. The days to cover jumped to more than six. AMD was one of the stocks we thought could double this year.
Brazilian iron ore producer Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) saw a 9.5% rise in short interest to more than 105.50 million shares. That was the biggest increase among the stocks featured here, and it was on top of a 3.7% gain in the previous period. It would take about six days to cover all short positions, up from less than four just a month earlier.
The number of Cemex S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE: CX) shares short increased by around 868,000 from the previous period to more than 91.54 million by mid-May. That was a gain of about 1.0% and represents about 7.6% of the total float. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than eight days to cover all short positions.
After the end of a three-period streak of shrinking short interest in Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) in the previous period, it fell again in early May, by 18.1% to around 88.13 million shares. That was just 0.8% of the bank’s float, and it would take a little more than one day to cover all short positions. Bank of America made our list of the most damaged American brands.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s (NYSE: JCP) short interest shrank from 90.89 million shares to 78.85 million in the first two weeks of the month. That was the lowest number of shares short so far this year, but it was still 26.1% of the float. The days to cover dropped to around three as the average daily volume increased. The latest quarterly results showed the beleaguered retailer’s turnaround has managed to gain some traction.
Rounding out the top ten are Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). Short interest in Ford dropped marginally while in the other three it rose modestly.