The number of Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) shares short grew by less than 41,000 during the period, or hardly at all, to more than 128.61 million. However, that broke six periods 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.
Shares of this Brazilian miner were recently upgraded at Barclays. Vale’s shares pulled back more than 4% during the short-interest period, though they were up more than 8% early on. They closed most recently at $5.38. That is up more than 63% year to date but nearly 32% higher than a year ago. The share price has ranged from $2.13 to $6.26 in the past 52 weeks.
In contrast to the retreat by more than double-digit percentages in the July and early August periods from the highest level year to date, the short interest in General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) stayed essentially flat most recently, landing at nearly 116.95 million shares by mid-month. That was 1.3% of the iconic conglomerate’s float, and it would take more than three days to cover all short positions.
24/7 Wall St. pointed to GE as one of the stocks dragging down the Dow this year. The share price ended the two-week short interest period more than 4% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down only about 1% in that time. GE shares have been essentially flat since then, and they ended most recently at $29.54. They have traded between $24.26 and $33.00 in the past year.
The number of shares short in Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) surged almost 12% to more than 114.92 million as of the most recent settlement date. Some 8.8% of the miner’s float was sold short after the first two weeks of the month, but note that short interest was more than 20% of float early in the year. It would take about three days to cover all short positions.
Freeport made a big asset sale this month, and short sellers watched the shares rise more than 7% but end the short interest period down about 5%. The stock closed most recently at $10.51 per share, which is up more than 55% year to date. The 52-week low is $3.52, well short of the 52-week high of $14.20.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) saw its short interest grow more than 5% to almost 114.06 million shares by the middle of September. That was 4.6% of the float, the highest level in the past year. As of the most recent settlement date, it would take more than six days to cover all short positions, after the average daily volume shrank somewhat.
CEO Jack Ma reportedly was promoting free trade at the G20. Short sellers watched the share price rise more than 7% between the settlement dates and another 3% or so afterward. The stock closed most recently at $105.89, after hitting a 52-week high of $109.76 last week. The 52-week low is $57.20.
And the Rest
Rounding out the top 10 were Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) and Bank of America Corp.’s (NYSE: BAC). The mover among them was Bank of America, with a more than 16% drop in short interest that wiped out the surge in the previous period and then some.
Still lingering outside the top 10 were Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE: HST), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). Note that Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) had a huge increase in the number of its shares short, but it fell short of breaking into the top 10.