The reported number of Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) shares sold short leaped again in this period, from almost 146.52 million to more than 163.99 million as of the most recent settlement date. The latest figure was 15.5% of the company’s total float, as well as the highest level of short interest so far this year. The average daily trading volume shrank again in the most recent period, so the days to cover rose from about five to seven.
Rite Aid completed the transfer of assets to Walgreens last month. Rite Aid’s share price was around 12% lower during the period but had reclaimed all of that loss by the end of the month. The stock closed most recently at $1.65 a share, which was more than 22% lower compared with the beginning of the year. Rite Aid shares have traded between $1.38 and $4.87 apiece in the past 52 weeks.
After General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) saw the number of its shares short jump nearly 14% in the previous period to a year-to-date high, short sellers took a pause in the latter two weeks of the month. The more than 151.31 million shares reported most recently was down more than 2% and represented 1.8% of the conglomerate’s total float. The daily average trading volume rose, but the days to cover reading ended the period still at about two.
There was no doubt that GE was the worst performer among the Dow Jones industrials during the first quarter. Its shares ended the short interest period about 6% lower, though they were down more than 11% at one point. In those two weeks, the Dow retreated more than 3%. GE’s share price was last seen at $13.05, which compares with a 52-week low of $12.73 from last month. The 52-week high, which was reached last April, was $30.54 a share. The stock now is more than 27% lower year to date.
Returning to the top six was Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), with a more than 8% bump in its shares short in final weeks of the month. That brought the reported number of shares short to almost 145.58 million, or 3.7% of the iconic automaker’s float. With the average daily volume on the latest settlement date, it would take three days for sellers to cover all their short positions.
Last month, Ford announced a change in the executive suite as it strives to enhance its brand. The share price ended the latest settlement period fractionally lower, though it had been down by more than 5% at one point. The shares closed most recently at $11.45, which is more than 9% lower since the beginning of the year. The shares have changed hands between $10.14 and $13.48 apiece in the past 52 weeks.
And the Rest
Rounding out the top 10 were J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). The big mover among these was Bank of America, with a double-digit percentage decrease in the number of its shares short.
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) saw an even bigger drop-off in its short interest, allowing it to fall from the list of the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks. Lingering with it outside the spotlight of the top 10 were telecom CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), which also had a sharp increase in short interest, and offshore driller Ensco Corp. (NYSE: ESV).