Early this month, the broader markets continued their retreats from all-time highs, and volatility seemed to be the name of the game, not only in stocks but the price of oil as well. Plus investors were waiting for the first-quarter earnings reporting season to begin. The most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange did not reveal any big trend among short sellers, as the moves in those stocks were mixed and mostly mild between the March 31 and April 13 settlement dates.
However, the number of Ford shares short stood out with a double-gain for the second period in a row, as the company’s woes appeared to continue.
Note that the top six stocks on the list all had more than 110 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
The number of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s (NYSE: CHK) shares short has risen in nearly every period so far this year. It increased most recently by almost 6% to more than 135.27 million shares short, lifting it to the top of the list. That was 15.1% of the company’s float. At the most current daily average, it would take about three days to cover all the short positions.
Chesapeake saw a price target cut just ahead of the short interest period. Shares were down less than 1% by mid-month, though they were up more than 6% early in the period. The stock closed most recently at $5.51. That was well up from the multiyear low of $3.56 from last summer, but handily less than the 52-week high of $8.20 seen in mid-December.
The more than 126.47 million AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short on the most recent settlement date was 6.9% greater than at the end of March. It also was 2.1% of the float, and it was the highest level of short interest in at least a year. As of the latest settlement date, it would take about eight days to cover all short positions.
AT&T made a big investment in 5G technology during the period. In the first two weeks of this month, short sellers watched the share price drop about 3%, and it has retreated further since that time. The stock closed on Tuesday at $39.94 a share, which was around 6% lower than at the beginning of the year. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $36.10 to $43.89.
Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT) slipped from its spot as the most shorted NYSE stock with an almost 4% drop in the number of shares short in the first two weeks of this month. That was the second period in a row of declining short interest. The nearly 131.08 million shares reported most recently represented 13.5% of this oil and gas driller’s total float. The days to cover reading ended the period at around eight.
Goldman Sachs recently downgraded Weatherford shares. The stock ended the two weeks almost 9% lower, most of the drop coming at the end of the period. The S&P 500 was down fractionally in that time. The stock closed most recently at $5.61 a share, which still is more than 12% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands between $3.73 and $8.49 in the past 52 weeks.