The overbought markets, along with political and geopolitical uncertainties and the rising concerns about the possibility of a sizable market correction, brought mixed reactions from short sellers when it came to the most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange between the May 31 and June 15 settlement dates. Of note though were that the upswings in short interest were much sharper than the downswings.
The most shorted NYSE stock held on to its place at the top of the list with double-digit percentage rise in the number of its shares sold short. But a leading money center bank also saw a big pop in its short interest in those two weeks, which lifted it into the number five spot.
Note that the top six stocks on the list all had more than 125 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
The number of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s (NYSE: CHK) shares short has risen in nearly every period so far this year, and it is the most shorted NYSE stock again. Short interest increased most recently by about 15% to around 191.89 million shares. That was 21.4% of the company’s float. At the latest posted daily average trading volume, it still would take about five days to cover all the short positions.
Natural gas price increases helped buoy the stock during the period. The share price ended the two weeks more than 1% lower, though it was up more than 4% at one point. The S&P 500 saw a fractional gain in that time. The stock closed most recently at $4.67 a share, which is more than 33% lower year to date. Shares have changed hands between $3.93 and $8.20 in the past 52 weeks.
The approximately 149.11 million AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short on the most recent settlement date was around 1% less than at the end of May. It also was 2.4% of the float. The previous period saw the highest level of short interest in at least a year. As of the latest settlement date, it would take about eight days to cover all short positions.
Last month, rival Verizon outbid AT&T for the 5G assets in Straight Path Communications. In the first two weeks of this month, short sellers watched the share price seesaw but end up with about the same gain as the S&P 500. The stock closed most recently at $38.15 a share, which was more than 10% lower than at the beginning of the year. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $36.10 to $43.89.
Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT) slipped a little further from the top of the list with about a 6% decline in the number of shares short in the initial two weeks of this month. That followed two double-digit percentage increases in a row in late April and early May. The more than 148.33 million shares reported most recently represented 15.2% of this oil and gas driller’s total float. The days to cover reading ended the period at around five.
Weatherford stock has been retreating since the company posted a quarterly net loss at the end of April. Shares were down more than 8% in the two-week period, and they pulled back even further afterward. The share price was last seen at $3.85. That was up from the recent multiyear low of $3.69, but handily less than the 52-week high of $7.09 from back in March.