Short Sellers Hit Sprint, Chesapeake Energy and Others

Short sellers moved aggressively into the shares of companies with weak financial prospects and stock prices.

According to data from the NYSE and Nasdaq, for the period that ended April 30, shares sold short in Sprint-Nextel (NYSE: S) rose 132% t0 139.3 million. The wireless company’s prospects have been burned by the success of AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ). And Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse agreed to reset his compensation for last year because of shareholder objections about its size.

Shares sold short in Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) rose 28% to 67.2 million. The value of the stock is down by nearly half because of a scandal that has engulfed CEO Aubrey McClendon and his board. McClendon has been taking investments in wells drilled by the company.

Shares short in Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) were higher by 31% to 38.8 million as worries that new CEO Meg Whitman will not be able to repair the firm’s operations soon.

The short interest in Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) rose 25% to 28.7 million. The telecom equipment maker has posted a string of losses as the demand from its cable and telephone corporate clients has fallen.

Shares short in Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) were up 17% to 50.5 million. The company just posted an earnings forecast that drove its shares down on extraordinary volume.

The short interest in new IPO Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) was up 51% to 42 million. The market has started to doubt whether the company’s products are unique enough for its to fend off competition.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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