The latest Wall Street Journal short interest data shows a massive surge in the number of Procter & Gamble shares sold short: more than 250%! That would make it easily the most shorted stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange between the September 15 and September 30 settlement dates.
That move dwarfed a double-digit percentage rise in GE’s short interest during those same two weeks. The swings in the other most shorted NYSE stocks were mixed but mild.
Note that all the top six stocks on the list had more than 120 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
Procter & Gamble
For the second consecutive period, the number of shares short in Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) have surged — most recently by over 258% to more than 291.39 million. So 10.9% of its float was sold short after the final two weeks of the month. Note that short interest was just about 3% of float in the previous period, and about 1% or less for most of the year. Now it would take about five days to cover all short positions.
The company remains a dividend aristocrat, and short sellers watched the shares rise about 2% in the short interest period. The S&P 500 gained only about 1% in that time. The stock closed most recently at $88.54 per share. That is up more than 11% year to date. The 52-week low is $73.50, while the 52-week high is $90.33.
After staying essentially flat for two periods in a row, short interest in Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) jumped more than 8% between the most recent settlement dates. The approximately 167.50 million shares short reported totaled 26.4% of the float. The days to cover rose from around six to more than nine as the daily average volume shrank in the latter weeks of the month.
24/7 Wall St. took a look at Sprint’s sky-high valuation last month. The share price ended the short interest period more than 2% below where it began it, though it was down more than 9% at one point. The shares are still up more than 87% year to date and closed most recently at $6.78. 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.
The short interest in Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) pulled back less than 2% for the second straight period, bringing the number of its shares short to more than 147.68 million by the end 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 five days to cover all short positions.
Ford sales were not as bad as expected in September. But the share price slipped fractionally in the two weeks, while the S&P 500 rose about 1%. Ford shares have changed hands between $11.02 and $15.84 apiece in the past year. They were trading at $11.99 on Tuesday’s close, which is up more than 4% year to date.