Among the most shorted stocks trading on the New York Stock Exchange, General Electric, and to a lesser extent Petrobras, drew the most attention from short sellers between the October 15 and October 30 settlement dates. They both saw sharp percentage upswings in the number of shares short during the period. Meanwhile, the number of shares short in AT&T dropped handily.
Note that the six most shorted NYSE stocks all had more than 110,000 shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
After rising since the end of May, short interest in Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) retreated for the second consecutive period, pulling back less than 2% to more than 219.08 million shares by the end of the month. That was 33.4% of the company’s float, and the days to cover rose to about 14 as the daily average volume declined. In the period, investors held their collective breath ahead of the latest earnings report. Short sellers watched the stock fall about 15% between the settlement dates. It closed at $7.06 on Tuesday, down about 64% year to date. In the past year, shares have traded between $6.01 and $24.43.
The short interest in General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) soared between the settlement dates, up more than 70% to about 217.99 million shares. Fewer than 100 million shares were short for most of the past year, but it was up to 2.2% of the float by October 30. It would take about three days to cover all short positions. GE started the period with a positive earnings surprise. The share price rose more than 3% but then surrendered that gain during the two-week period. Shares closed at $30.12 Tuesday, after hitting a 52-week high of $30.27 the day before. The $19.37 52-week low was during the market swoon back in August.
After a more than an 18% plunge in the number of Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) shares short in the previous two periods, they reversed course and grew 2.3% to around 188.67 million. That was still the second lowest level of short interest since last January. At the most recent average daily volume, it would take around seven days to cover all short positions. At least one analyst sees the Brazilian miner as a contrarian play. Shares of Vale did end the short-interest period almost 10% lower. The S&P 500 was more than 2% higher during that time. The stock closed most recently at $4.11, in a 52-week trading range of $3.97 to $9.55.