The reported number of Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) shares sold short grew from more than 143.47 million to nearly 147.44 million as of the most recent settlement date, recovering a similar decline in the previous period. The latest figure was 14.0% of the company’s total float. The average daily trading has decreased in five straight periods, and most recently the days to cover figure jumped from about 13 to 23.
During the period, options traders seemed to be expecting a big move in Rite Aid shares. Its share price was in the red for most of those two weeks but managed to end the period more than 1% higher. In the past week, the stock is up fractionally, and it closed on Thursday at $1.66 a share. That was more than 21% lower compared with the beginning of the year. Rite Aid shares have traded between $1.38 and $4.21 apiece in the past 52 weeks.
Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT) falls to the fifth spot on the list even though the number of its shares sold short slipped just 1% in the first two weeks of May. Short interest has decreased for four periods in a row, and the more than 145.42 million shares reported most recently represented 14.8% of the total float. The days to cover reading ended the two weeks still at around six despite a rise in the average daily volume.
Some on Wall Street still see big upside potential in Weatherford stock. Short sellers watched the share price rise more than 18% by the end the settlement period, and an additional 3% or so afterward. The stock closed most recently at $3.51 a share. That’s up from a 52-week low of $2.07 in early April. The 52-week high, seen almost a year ago, was $5.41. The stock is only up less than 2% year to date.
Back in March, 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 slowly loosening their grip since then. The more than 138.84 million shares reported most recently was down more than 5% for the period and represented 1.6% of the conglomerate’s total float. The daily average trading volume shrank somewhat, and the days to cover reading ticked up to about three.
So far this year, GE has been among the worst-performing of the Dow Jones industrials. Yet, the stock ended the short interest period more than 5% higher, though it has retreated about 3% since then. In those two weeks, the Dow rose less than 3%. GE’s share price was last seen at $14.60, which compares with a 52-week low of $12.73 from back in March. The 52-week high, which was reached last summer, was $29.47 a share. The stock now is more than 19% lower year to date.
And the Rest
Rounding out the top 10 were J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC). Alibaba saw little change in is short interest, while the number of Ford and Bank of America shares dwindled somewhat.
Note that the number of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) shares sold short surged by a double-digit percentage between the settlement dates, but it fell short of making it into the top 10 list. Lingering along with it outside of the spotlight of the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks were offshore driller Ensco Corp. (NYSE: ESV) and telecom CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL).