Short Sellers Cast a Wide Net (ACI, XCO, SD, FST, XOM, DUK, AMD, SNY, PFE, NOK, BKS, SVU, PBI, DV, BPI)

The energy sector saw a lot of activity from short sellers in April, but other stocks saw some action as well. We’ve already covered some of the bigger names here and some of the cult stocks here.

Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI) saw a gain of 18.7% in short interest as of for the two weeks ended April 30th. More than 6.6 million shares were added to short interest and 20% of the company’s float is now short. The coal miner’s poor earnings and forecast are to blame.

Short interest in Exco Resources Inc. (NYSE: XCO) rose nearly 12% to more than 33.5 million shares, or 19.3% of the company’s float. The oil & gas driller missed revenue expectations, although it did post a profit. Revenue is more important now however.

Among the largest overall short positions, SandRidge Energy Co. (NYSE: SD) got short interest on 49.5 million shares, nearly 12% of its float and up 6.7% from the previous reporting period. Shares are down more than -33% in the past 12 months, and the small spikes don’t affect short sellers here. The long-term outlook for natural gas continues to call for weak pricing.

E&P company Forest Oil Co. (NYSE: FST) was another recipient of more short interest in late April. Short sellers added about 3 million shares, a 24.7% increase and enough to put nearly 13% of the company’s float short.

Even Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) didn’t escape. Short sellers added 7.7 million shares to their positions, a 31.8% change to 32 million shares, but still less than 1% of Exxon’s shorts.

The final energy company we’ll look at here is Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK), where 5.8 million additional shares were added to short positions, bringing total shorts to just over 79 million shares. That’s an addition of 8% and represents 5.9% of Duke’s float. It’s odd to see a utility on this list.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD)saw short interest in its share rise by 6.5% to more than 70 million shares or 11.9% of the company’s float. AMD continues to suffer from lower-than-expected earnings and revenues.

Short interest in Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) jumped 265% to more 13.4 million shares. While still only about 0.5% of the company’s float, but generic drug sales are hurting the company as is a weak economy in Europe. Neither condition is expected to improve soon either.

Short interest in Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) also rose sharply, buy 21.4% to reach a total of 63.6 million shares, about 0.8% of the company’s float. Like Sanofi, competition from generics hurts. The company also said it will reduce marketing expenditures on its Lipitor drug.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) gets the honor for being the equity with the largest number of short shares, 195 million, which represents 5.2% of the company’s float. The good news is that short interest fell by more than 32 million shares, also the largest change.

More than 75% of Barnes & Noble Inc.’s (NYSE: BKS) float is short, about 19.8 million shares. Short interest in the company grew by just 700,000 shares since mid-April.

Short interest holds more than 42% of grocer SuperValue Inc.’s (NYSE: SVU) shares with a total of 88.5 million shares short, up slightly from two weeks ago.

Short interest in Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) actually fell slightly , but the company’s total of 50.5 million shares short represents 25.3% of the float and 22 days to cover.

Short interest in for-profit educator DeVry Inc. (NYSE: DV) jumped 123.2% to 3.7 million shares or 6.3% of the company’s float. Another education company, Bridgepoint Education Inc. (NYSE: BPI) posts short interest of more than 9.7 million shares, or 56% of its float.

Paul Ausick

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