In most years, the end of July would mark the beginning of the summer doldrums, but this year the markets are hitting new all-time highs. And short sellers were getting out of the way between the July 15 and July 29 settlement dates, at least when it comes to the most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Leading that trend was GE, which posted its most recent quarterly results during the period. On the other hand, Ford was the odd man out with a modest gain in the number of its shares short. Its second-quarter earnings report during the period was particularly disappointing.
Note that all the top six stocks on the list still had more than 100 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
Short interest in Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has dwindled for three periods in a row, most recently around 1%, but the company held on to its place as the most shorted NYSE stock. The almost 160.87 million shares short reported most recently totaled 25.7% of the float. The days to cover dropped from 12 to four as the daily average volume surged in the final weeks of the month.
In the period, Sprint reported record subscriber growth. Its share price rose more than 10% by the end of the month, as well as about 25% further since the settlement date. The S&P 500 was rose only fractionally in the short interest period. The stock reached a 52-week high of $6.35 last week and closed at $6.18 on Tuesday. The 52-week low is $2.18.
The number of Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) shares short retreated by almost 5.96 million during the period, or less than 4%, to more than 153.37 million. That was the fourth period in a row of shrinking short interest. At the most recent average daily volume, it would take about five days to cover all short positions.
This Brazilian miner reported mixed results for the latest quarter. Vale’s shares ended the short-interest period more than 7% higher, though they pulled back a bit afterward. The stock closed most recently at $6.07, which is up more than 84% year to date, but only about 15% higher than a year ago. The share price has ranged from $2.13 to $6.26 in the past year.
After declining in the previous two periods, the short interest in Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) increased more than 2%, bringing the number of its shares short to about 147.96 million by the end of the month. That represented 3.8% of the total float, still down from a high of more than 4% in mid-March. It would take about three days to cover all short positions.
Disappointing Ford earnings reverberated in late July. Yet, the share price increased more than 2% early in the settlement period, before dropping to more than 6% lower by the end of the month. Ford shares have changed hands between $10.44 and $15.84 apiece in the past year. They were trading at $12.31 on Tuesday’s close.