CBS saw a sharp rise in short interest between the June 30 and July 15 settlement dates, lifting it into the top five most shorted stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. Among these five, Bank of America had the most significant drop in the number of shares short during the period, falling below 100,000, but it still held on to its spot in the top five.
The number of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short increased about 4.4% in the first two weeks of the month to about 199.96 million. That was the highest level of short interest since the end of March, and it represents 3.9% of the float. It would take more than 11 days to cover all short positions. During the period we recognized AT&T as one of America’s most patriotic brands. AT&T shares rose less than 3% in the two-week period to July 15, and it closed at $35.50 Thursday, up less than 2% from the beginning of the year. The 52-week range is $31.74 to $36.86.
Brazilian iron ore producer Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) had little change in short interest during the period, landing at 132.38 million shares on the settlement date. Short interest had been rising since the middle of April. It would take more than eight days to cover all short positions. Shares closed at $14.56, in a 52-week range of $12.29 to $17.14. The stock rose more than 7% in the two-week short-interest period.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) saw a fractional rise in short interest to more than 112.53 million shares by the middle of the month. That totaled 18.3% of the company’s float, and it was the third period in a row to see an increase in the number of shares short. The days to cover fell to less than three. We wondered the wisdom of shorting AMD in the period, and the stock’s price rose more than 8% in those two weeks. However, it now is down more than 5% year-to-date. The stock closed at $3.72 on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $3.04 to $4.80.
CBS Corp.’s (NYSE: WY) short interest surged from around 35.47 million shares to more than 110.55 million in the first two weeks of the month. It was 21.3% of the float. That is by far the largest number of shares short in the past year. The days to cover is less than three. Speculation has CBS acquiring CNN if Rupert Murdoch buys Time Warner. Short sellers watched the share price retreat more than 4% in the two-week period. Shares closed at $58.51 Thursday, in a 52-week range of $50.51 to $68.10, and down more than 7% year-to-date.
After a pullback of less than 4% in short interest in Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) in the previous period, it retreated again in early July, this time by 7.7%, to around 95.31 million shares. That was 0.9% of the bank’s float, and it would take a little more than a day to cover all short positions. Legal costs continue to impact earnings. The stock’s price was up almost 3% during the two-week period, and now it is down about 3% year-to-date. Shares closed at $15.62 and have traded in a range of $13.60 to $18.03 in the past year.
Rounding out the top 10 are Cemex SAB de C.V. (NYSE: CX), Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC), Weyerhaeuser Co. (NYSE: WY), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Note that after it jumped into the top five in the previous period, Weyerhaeuser saw short interest decline by more than 14% in the most recent period. A similar decline in the current period could see it drop back out of the top 10.