The most heavily traded shorted stocks on the New York Stock Exchange in the two-week period that ended May 31 saw their short positions shrink. During the two weeks the S&P 500 Index rose by 2.6% in the same period and daily volume was fairly steady.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the NYSE between the May 15 and May 31 settlement dates, those sellers were becoming more wary; in fact they dumped two short-seller favorites and added only modestly to the rest of the usual suspects.
Note that all six of the most shorted NYSE stocks still had more than 140 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period. In fact, all the top 10 had short interest of more than 120 million shares.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) inched back up to its accustomed spot as the No. 1 most shorted NYSE stock. Short interest rose by 0.7% to just over 195.3 million, some 3.2% of the stock’s total float. As of the end of last month, it would have taken seven days to cover all short positions. The stock ended trading on Monday with a price of $34.18 a share, within a 52-week range of $31.17 to $39.80.
The number of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s (NYSE: CHK) shares tumbled by 10.6% in the most recent period, dropping this oil and gas company from the top of the list. The reported short interest of more than 175.22 million shares equaled 19.5% of the total float, and this was the fourth time since mid-February that the total was less than 200 million. The number of days to cover fell to three. Shares closed on Monday at $4.92, in a 52-week range of $2.53 to $5.29.
The reported number of Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) shares sold short grew from more than 147.44 million to over 155.35 million as of the most recent settlement date, a rise of about 5.4% since May 15. The latest figure was 14.7% of the company’s total float. The number of days to cover fell from 23 to 19. Shares closed Monday at $1.74, within a 52-week range of $1.38 to $4.21.
In the two-week period that ended May 31, nearly 146.5 million shares of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) were short, about 1.7% of the company’s total float. Short interest in the stock rose 5.5% during the period and the number of days to cover fell from three to two. The stock closed Monday at $13.98, within a 52-week range of $12.73 to $29.47.
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) saw its short interest drop more than 6% in the two-week reporting period, keeping it among the top six most shorted NYSE stocks. During those two weeks, that was a dip of about 9.2 million, to 141.97 million, which represents 24.4% of the telecom’s total float. The number of days to cover rose from six to 12. The price of shares at Monday’s close was $5.26 within a 52-week range of $4.81 to $8.92.
Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT) falls to the sixth spot on the list as the number of its shares sold short dropped 4.2% during the last two weeks of May. Short interest has decreased for five periods in a row, and the more than 139.3 million shares reported most recently represented 14.1% of the total float. The number of days to cover rose from six to 10. The stock’s price at Monday’s market close was $3.51 within a 52-week range of $2.07 to $4.72.
And the rest
Rounding out the top 10 were Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) and Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP).
The number of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) shares sold short surged by a double-digit percentage between the settlement dates for the second consecutive reporting period, pushing the stock into the top 10.