For all the volatility returning to the markets after the doldrums of August, there was little change among the top few most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange between the August 31 and September 15 settlement dates. Making a run toward the top of the list, however, was Freeport-McMoRan, and to a lesser extent Alibaba. They pushed aside Bank of America, which was the big riser in the previous period.
Note that all the top six stocks on the list had more than 110 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
For the second period in a row, short interest in Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) stayed essentially flat between the settlement dates. The approximately 154.37 million shares short reported most recently totaled 24.4% of the float. But the days to cover dropped from 11 to around six as the daily average volume surged in the initial weeks of the month.
24/7 Wall St. took a look at Sprint’s sky-high valuation during those two weeks. The share price ended the short interest period less than 10% above where it began it, though it was up about 12% at one point. The shares pulled back after the settlement date and closed most recently at $6.65. The stock hit a 52-week high of $7.03 last month, well up from the 52-week low of $2.18 early in the year.
Following a more than 5% gain in the previous period, the short interest in Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) pulled back a little, less than 2%, bringing the number of its shares short to more than 149.74 million by the middle of the month. That represented 3.8% of the total float, down from a high of about 4.4% in mid-March. It would take about six days to cover all short positions.
Ford’s investor day presentation this month offered a look at where the company is headed in terms of new car technologies. But the share price retreated almost 4% in the two weeks, while the S&P 500 slipped about 1%. Ford shares have changed hands between $11.02 and $15.84 apiece in the past year. They were trading at $12.01 on Monday’s close, which is down almost 15% year to date.