A month ago, General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) saw the number of its shares short jump nearly 14% to a year-to-date high, and short sellers have been slow to loosen their grip since them. The more than 150.12 million shares reported most recently was down fractionally and represented 1.7% of the conglomerate’s total float. The daily average trading volume shrank notably, but the days to cover reading ended the period still at about two.
GE continued as the worst performer among the Dow Jones industrials for the first two weeks of this month. Its shares ended the short interest period only about 1% lower, though they were down more than 4% at one point. In those two weeks, the Dow had a gain of about 2%. GE’s share price was last seen at $14.68, which compares with a 52-week low of $12.73 from last month. The 52-week high, which was reached about a year ago, was $29.60 a share. The stock now is more than 18% lower year to date.
The reported number of Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) shares sold short tumbled from more than 163.99 million to over 147.32 million as of the most recent settlement date, reversing a similar gain in the previous period. The latest figure was 13.9% of the company’s total float. The average daily trading volume shrank again in the most recent period, so the days to cover rose from about seven to 11. Note that the end of March reading was the highest level of short interest so far this year.
Rite Aid posted a penny per share net loss for the most recently reported quarter put offered solid guidance. Its share price retreated more than 6% during the period, despite being up about 8% early in the month. The stock closed most recently at $1.62 a share, which was about 24% lower compared with the beginning of the year. Rite Aid shares have traded between $1.38 and $4.29 apiece in the past 52 weeks.
Still in the top six, despite a sharp drop, was Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). A more than 10% slide in its number of shares short in initial weeks of the month brought the figure to more than 129.21 million, which was 3.3% of the iconic automaker’s float. At the average daily volume on the latest settlement date, it would take three days for sellers to cover all their short positions.
Ford recalled some F-150s, its best-selling vehicle, during the period. The share price ended the latest settlement period about 2% higher, after it had been down by about 3% at one point. The shares closed most recently at $10.96, which is down more than 13% 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 Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Bucking the trend here were Alibaba and Bank of America with modest increases in the number of their shares short.
Note that CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) had its second consecutive sharp increase in short interest, but it didn’t quite yet break into the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks. Also lingering outside the spotlight of the top 10 were offshore driller Ensco Corp. (NYSE: ESV) and Brazilian miner Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE).