After taking a breather in the previous period, short sellers resumed piling on Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) again. The latest rise in short interest was a surge of more than 21%, bringing the reported number of shares short to more than 140.63 million. That represents 3.6% of the total float, and it was the fifth time this year that short interest was more than 100 million shares. It still would take three days to cover all short positions, as of the latest settlement date.
During the period, Ford ousted its chief executive and named the head of its autonomous car division to replace him. The share price seesawed during the period but ended less than 2% higher. It has continued to rise and fall since then. The shares have changed hands between $10.67 and $14.04 apiece in the past year. They were trading at $11.13 on Friday’s close, which is more than 8% lower than at the beginning of the year.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) saw the number of its shares short increase less than 2% from the previous period, but the latest reading was the greatest so far this year. And note that the more than 119.38 million shares reported totaled 4.8% of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s float. The daily average trading volume jumped during the period, and the days to cover slipped from more than 12 to more than nine.
Alibaba’s most recent earnings report seemed weak. The company’s share price seesawed in the two-week short interest period but ended the month fractionally higher. The stock hit a 52-week high of $148.29 on Friday but closed out the week at $139.44 a share. The 52-week low of $73.30 was seen almost a year ago.
Late last month, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) saw one of the few short interest declines among the most shorted NYSE stocks. And note that the number of its shares short interest has decreased in 11 of the previous 14 periods. Most recently its shares short shrank by more than 6 million to more than 115.25 million, which was 18.1% of the telecom’s total float. The days to cover rose from about five to around seven during those two weeks as the daily average volume pulled back from a year-to-date high.
Sprint was still rumored to be in merger talks with T-Mobile last month, and its share price dropped about 14% afterward. It ended the latest short interest period up more than 7%, despite being down almost 7% at one point. The shares closed most recently at $8.12. They hit a 52-week high of $9.65 back in February, which compares to the 52-week low of $3.61 from almost a year ago.
And the Rest
Rounding out the top 10 were Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE). Among these, short sellers favored J.C. Penney, pushing its short interest up by more than 16%. The Brazilian miner bucked the trend with a modest decrease in the number of its shares short.
Just outside the spotlight of the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks were General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) and Seadrill Ltd. (NYSE: SDRL). And note that Infosys Ltd. (NYSE: INFY), Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) and Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) saw large upswings in their short interest in late May, but not enough to lift them into the top 10.
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