While the markets were in a holding pattern ahead of the Labor Day holiday, albeit near all-time highs, the short interest moves in the most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange were mostly mild between the August 15 and August 31 settlement dates. Bucking that trend was Bank of America, in which short sellers piled on for the second consecutive period.
Others on the list saw modest to miniscule declines in the numbers of their shares sold short. But note that all the top six stocks on the list still had more than 110 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
After short interest in Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) dwindled for four periods in a row, it took a breather most recently and stayed essentially flat between the settlement dates. The approximately 153.03 million shares short reported at the end of August totaled 24.2% of the float. The days to cover rose from nine to 11 as the daily average volume continued to shrink in the final weeks of the month.
Sprint came in third in a recent study of wireless service. Its share price ended the short interest period about where it began it, though it has jumped more than 11% since the settlement date. After recently hitting a 52-week high of $7.03, the stock closed at $6.92 on Monday. The 52-week low is $2.18.
Following a 9% or so gain in the previous period, the short interest in Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) pulled back more than 5%, bringing the number of its shares short to more than 152.32 million by the end of the month. That represented 3.9% of the total float, still down from a high of about 4.4% in mid-March. It would take about six days to cover all short positions.
Ford pickups recovered some market share in August. The company’s share price increased less than 2% in the two-week period, while the S&P 500 slipped fractionally. Ford stock has changed hands between $11.02 and $15.84 a share in the past year. The shares were trading at $12.70 on Monday’s close, which was down almost 10% year to date.
The number of Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) shares short retreated by a mere 335,000 or so during the period, to more than 128.12 million. However, note that it was the sixth period in a row of shrinking short interest. At the most recent average daily volume, it would take about six days to cover all short positions.
This Brazilian miner has a new iron ore mine and processing plant coming online in the second half of 2016. But Vale’s shares pulled back about 9% during the short-interest period, though they were up about 3% early on. The stock closed most recently at $5.40, which is up around 64% year to date but less than 8% higher than a year ago. The share price has ranged from $2.13 to $6.26 in the past year.