Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), better known as Petrobras, saw the number of its shares short grow less than 3% in the two weeks to more than 137.64 million. The days to cover was still about four. The year-to-date peak short interest of around 146,000 shares was reached in April. Analysts continue to lower expectations for Petrobras. Shares dropped more than 21% during the August sell-off but finished the period only about 3% lower than where it started. The stock closed most recently at $4.85, down more than 33% year to date. In the past year, shares have traded between $4.68 and $18.09.
Sprint Corp.’s (NYSE: S) short interest shrank more than 6% to more than 135.70 million shares in the latter weeks of the month. That was just short of 20% of the float and still the second largest number of shares short in the past year. The days to cover remained about three. Softbank has continued to increase its stake in Sprint, and short sellers watched the share price rise about 21% in the two-week period. Shares closed at $4.82 Thursday, in a 52-week range of $3.10 to $7.15. The stock is up about 16% year to date.
The 121.91 million AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short in the previous period was the lowest level of short interest in more than a year. However, the number of shares short grew in late August to around 126.08 million. That was 2.1% of the float. It would take about three days to cover all short positions, down from more than 10 days in July. Investors saw AT&T as something of a safe haven from volatility during the period, though shares were more than 2% lower by the end of the month. The stock closed most recently at $32.75, which was less than 3% lower than at the beginning of the year. The 52-week trading range is $30.97 to $36.45.
The 123.15 million Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) shares short at month’s end was little changed from the previous settlement date. However, that ended six consecutive periods of rising short interest. The days to cover was about eight. Jefferies upgraded Transocean earlier in August. Shares bounced back from the August sell-off and ended the two weeks marginally higher. They have risen more than 4% more since, closing at $14.82 on Thursday. Shares have traded between $11.26 and $37.44 in the past 52 weeks.
Rounding out the top 10 were Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU) and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP). Short interest in Ford and Bank of America both grew to more than 100,000 shares for the first time this year. The number of J.C. Penney shares short shrank marginally. Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) saw a surge in short interest during the period but has not yet cracked the top 10.
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