The king of the hill in the previous period was Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT). Following a surge of about 14% in late January, the number of shares short retreated about 3% most recently to over 118.10 million. That figure represented 12.2% of this oil and gas driller’s total float. At the most current daily average, it would take about four days to cover all the short positions.
Weatherford posted a smaller-than-expected net loss at the beginning of the month. Its shares ended the two-week period about 18% higher, most of that gain coming early in the period. The stock closed most recently at $5.77, which is almost 16% higher year to date. The share price has ranged from $3.73 to $8.49 in the past 52 weeks.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) saw its short interest dwindle less than 2% to more than 113.65 million shares by the middle of the month. That ended three straight periods of increasing numbers of shares short, and it totaled 4.7% of the float. As of the latest settlement date, it would take about 14 days to cover all short positions, up from the previous nine.
During the period, Alibaba expanded its partnership with Mattel. Short sellers watched the share price rise more than 2% and then give up most of that gain during the short interest period. The stock closed most recently at $103.60 a share, which is about 18% higher since the beginning of the year. The 52-week trading range is $66.86 to $109.87.
Bank of America
After four consecutive periods of Bank of America Corp.’s (NYSE: BAC) number of shares short retreating, they reversed course in February. The more than 106.65 million shares short reported most recently (less than a 2% rise) represented 1.1% of the money center bank’s float. The average daily trading volume increased in the period, but the days to cover remained about one.
This is one of the banks likely to benefit from the expected deregulation. The shares ended the two weeks more than 8% higher, while the S&P 500 was up about 3% in that time. The stock has changed hands between $12.05 and $24.95 a share in the past year. It closed at $24.57 on Monday, up more than 11% year to date.
And the Rest
Rounding out the top 10 were AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), Seadrill Ltd. (NYSE: SDRL) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL). All four saw the numbers of their shares pop, from about 5% for Seadrill to almost 15% at GE.
Note that Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) also saw notable increases in short interest, but not enough to lift them into the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks. Lingering outside the spotlight along with them are Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE: HST) and Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE).
Furthermore, the most shorted Nasdaq stocks included AMD, Intel and Sirius XM.
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