The Eight Most Shorted Stocks on the NYSE

Short sellers continue to hold huge positions not only in troubled companies like J.C. Penney and Alcoa, but also in blue chips like AT&T and General Electric. As of April 15, the most recent settlement date, the eight most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange all had short positions of more than 69 million shares. For J.C. Penney, that was more than 30% of the float, while at Advanced Micro Devices it was almost 20%.

The number of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short decreased by almost 11 million in the period to about 197.16 million. That ended seven straight periods of growing short interest and represents 3.8% of the float. It would take about seven days to cover all short positions. This in a period when AT&T said it was hiring staff to meet increased demand in its retail business.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) had a 2.2% gain in short interest to 120.63 million shares by the middle of the month. That totaled 19.6% of the company’s float, and the days to cover remained about six. AMD seemed set to benefit from a price war between the new gaming consoles, and the stock still may double this year.

The short interest in Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) dropped 7.8% from the previous period but still came to more than 102.91 million shares. That was just 1.0% of the bank’s float, and it would take a little more than a day to cover all short positions. Bank of America said it intends to increase its quarterly common stock dividend to $0.05 per share this quarter.

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J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) short interest dwindled from 110.16 million shares to the 93.32 million by mid-April, though its turnaround still hasn’t managed to gain traction. That was the lowest number of shares short so far this year, but it was still 30.9% of the float. The days to cover was around six.

Brazilian iron ore producer Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) saw a 9.9% decline in short interest to more than 92.94 million shares. That was down from a year-to-date peak of more than 113 million shares in mid-March. And it was 2.9% of the total float. The days to cover was around four in the period.

The number of Cemex S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE: CX) shares short increased by around 2.0 million the previous period to almost 80.63 million in the middle of April. At the current average daily volume, it would take about five days to cover all short positions.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) offered up a mixed earnings report in the period, but it saw little change in its short interest. The 79.01 million shares represent about 7.4% of the total float. Before this period, the number of shares short had been declining since the beginning of the year. It would take about three days to close out all short positions.

The short interest in General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) slipped 1.1% during the period to total more than 69.97 million shares. That was less than 1% of the total float, and the days to cover was about two. GE is a top Buffett holding, even though it is a competitor of sorts with Berkshire Hathaway.

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