Shorts sellers appeared to pick a favorite from the most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange between the August 15 and August 31 settlement dates. While overall the short interest moves in these stocks were mixed and mild, J.C. Penney bucked that trend.
The struggling retailer shot to number three on the list with double-digit percentage growth in its short interest in the final two weeks of last month. However, that surge was outdone by that of Snap, though the stock didn’t quite rise into the top 10.
Note that the top six stocks on the list all had more than 120 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period. In fact, all but one of the top 10 had short interest of more than 100 million shares.
While the number of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s (NYSE: CHK) shares short has risen in most periods so far this year, and it remains the most shorted NYSE stock, its short interest decreased most recently by about 1% to more than 196.68 million. That still was 22.0% of the company’s float. At the latest posted daily average trading volume, it would take about six days to cover all the short positions.
Chesapeake stock sank to new 52-week lows as Hurricane Harvey blasted the Gulf Coast. Its share price ended the two weeks more than 8% lower, though it has recovered somewhat since then. The S&P 500 saw only a fractional gain between the settlement dates. The stock closed Tuesday’s trading at $3.74 a share, after hitting a 52-week low of $3.55 recently, and now it is more than 46% lower year to date. Shares have changed hands as high as $8.20 in the past 52 weeks.
The approximately 177.10 million AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short on the most recent settlement date was around 4% higher than two weeks earlier, once again affirming its place in the number two spot on the list. Also it represented 2.9% of the float and was about the highest level of short interest in at least a year. As of the end of last month, it would take around 11 days to cover all short positions.
AT&T was still working on closing on its acquisition of Time Warner. In the first two weeks of August, short sellers watched the share price retreat by around 2%, as well as some more afterward. The stock closed most recently at $36.27 a share, which was more than 14% lower than at the beginning of the year. The 52-week trading range for those shares is $35.10 to $43.03.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) saw the number of its shares short surge from more than 121.16 million in the previous period to over 142.40 million. The latest reading was the greatest in the past year, the 11th in a row above 100 million, and also a whopping 49.3% of the struggling retailer’s float. The daily average trading volume decreased during the period, and the days to cover rose to about eight.
This year, J.C. Penney was among the companies laying off the most workers. Its share price rose more than 5% in the two-week short interest period, though it had been down about 3% at one point. The stock closed most recently at $4.20 a share. The 52-week low, seen last month, was $3.45, while the 52-week high of $10.74 was reached last December.