The 6 Most Shorted NYSE Stocks: Bye-Bye Baxter

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Ford

After retreating about 6% in the previous period, short interest in Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reversed course and gained about 2%, bringing the number of its shares short to more than 147.02 million at the end of the settlement period. That represented 3.8% of the total float, and it ended three periods in a row of decline. It would take about seven days to cover all short positions.

Ford F-150 pickups continue to be wildly popular. The share price increased about 2% during the period, though it retreated a bit afterward. Ford shares have changed hands between $10.44 and $15.84 apiece in the past year. They were trading at $13.26 on Thursday’s close, down almost 6% year to date.

Freeport-McMoRan

The number of shares short in Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) grew about 7% to around 121.18 million on the most recent settlement date, taking back much of the more than 8% retreat in short interest in the previous period. Some 10.3% of the miner’s float was sold short at the end of May, and it would take about three days to cover all short positions.

The company canceled a spin-off and a contract during the two-week period, and the share price ended the short interest period more than 6% higher, though it was up almost 12% at one point. The stock closed most recently at $10.90 per share. The 52-week low is $3.52, well short of the 52-week high of $21.17.

Alcoa

Four consecutive periods of retreat, most recently by less than 130,000, left Alcoa Inc.’s (NYSE: AA) number of shares short at more than 126.43 million by the end of the latest period. That was 9.8% of the total float. A drop in the average daily volume lifted the days to cover to about six as of the most recent settlement date.

Alcoa got a big upgrade from Merrill Lynch recently. Its share price rose more than 4% but then gave up most of that gain in the short interest period. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen more than 2% by the end of the month. Alcoa shares have changed hands between $6.14 and $12.34 apiece in the past year. They closed at $9.84 on Thursday.

Petrobras

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), better known as Petrobras, saw the number of its shares short shrink by about 3% in the two weeks to more than 108.48 million as May came to a close. The days to cover remained at about three as the average daily volume increased slightly. Note that the level of short interest has trended downward since the beginning of the year.

Petrobras still is not finding the love from analysts. Its shares rose about 4% in the period but ended the two weeks down more than 18%. They recovered much of that ground afterward and closed most recently at $6.89, up more than 60% year to date. The 52-week high of $9.72 occurred almost a year ago, while the $2.71 low was seen last January.

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And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) and Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG). Here again, the short interest swings were mixed but modest.

Making a run at the top 10 in the most recent period were Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) and, especially, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (NYSE: HPE), with the number of its shares short surging more than 344%. Will they join the ranks of the top 10 next time, or drop away again as Baxter has done? Stay tuned.