The NYSE's Six Most Shorted Stocks

Short sellers continue to hold huge positions not only in blue chips like Bank of America and AT&T, but also in troubled companies like J.C. Penney. As of May 30, the most recent settlement date, the six most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange all had short positions of more than 80 million shares. For J.C. Penney, that was almost 27% of the float, while at Advanced Micro Devices, the only one of these stocks to see a decrease in short interest in this period, it was near 17%.

The number of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short increased by more than 2.4 million in the final two weeks of the month to about 180.97 million. That was up from the period from the lowest level of short interest since the end of February, and it represents 3.5% of the float. It would take about six days to cover all short positions. AT&T is currently pursuing an acquisition of DirecTV. The stock declined almost 3% in the two-week period to May 30, and it closed at $34.94 Tuesday, about the same as at the beginning of the year. The 52-week range is $31.74 to $36.86.

Brazilian iron ore producer Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) saw a 12.7% rise in short interest to more than 118.92 million shares. That was the biggest increase among the stocks featured here, and it was on top of a 9.5% gain in the previous period. It would take about seven days to cover all short positions. Shares closed at $13.21, in a 52-week range of $12.29 to $17.14, and posted a share price decline of almost 9% for the two-week short-interest period, a nice pickup for the short sellers.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) had a 6.5% decline in short interest to 103.81 million shares by the end of the month. That still totaled 16.8% of the company’s float but was the lowest number of shares short so far this year. The days to cover jumped to about eight. AMD was on our list of stocks that could double this year. The stock’s price was marginally higher during the two-week period and now is up about 3% year-to-date. Shares closed at $4.20 on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $3.04 to $4.65.

The number of Cemex SAB de C.V. (NYSE: CX) shares short increased by around 1.73 million from the previous period to more than 93.28 million by the end of May. That was a gain of about 1.9% and represents about 7.7% of the total float. At the current average daily volume, it would take around 14 days to cover all short positions. Shares rose less than 4% in the two-week period and are up more than 18% year-to-date. Shares closed at $13.50 on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $8.78 to $13.82.

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On top of a rise of about 18% in short interest in Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) in the previous period, it rose again in late May by 5.5% to around 93.01 million shares. That was just 0.9% of the bank’s float, and it would take about one day to cover all short positions. Bank of America resubmitted its capital plan to the Federal Reserve during the period. The stock’s price was up near 4% in the two-week period but now is down less than 2% year-to-date. Shares closed at $15.92 and have traded in a range of $12.13 to $18.03 in the past year.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s (NYSE: JCP) short interest grew from more than 78.85 million shares to around 80.82 million in the final two weeks of the month, taking back some of the decline in the previous period. That was 26.8% of the float. The days to cover remained around three as the average daily volume increased marginally. J.C. Penney was one of America’s most familiar brands, but not entirely for the right reasons. The share price ended the two-week period more than 7% higher than were it began. Shares closed at $8.87 Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $4.90 to $18.90, and down less than 3% year-to-date.

Rounding out the top 10 are Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), Molycorp Inc. (NYSE: MCP), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and SunEdison Inc. (NYSE: SUNE). Note that Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) dropped out of the top 10 in this period.

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