General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) remained in the top six even as the number of its shares short dropped a little in the settlement period. The last big move was a jump of more than 23% in the latter half of September. The more than 122.86 million shares reported most recently still represented 1.4% of the conglomerate’s total float, and it compares to the year-to-date high above 155 million shares seen back in March. Though the daily average trading volume increased in the latest period, the days to cover remained at less than one.
Analysts kept ratcheting down expectations for GE during the period. The shares retreated around 14% during the period, despite being up almost 4% at one point. In those two weeks, the Dow pulled back only fractionally. GE’s share price was last seen at $8.58, after hitting a 52-week low of $8.15 earlier in the day. The 52-week high, from about a year ago, was $20.75 a share. The stock has lost about a third of its value in the past 90 days.
Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT) again finds itself in the top six on the list after the number of its shares sold short jumped 17% or so in the final two weeks of October. The stock was at number 10 on the list in the prior period. The more than 121.72 million shares reported most recently represented 12.3% of the total float. The days to cover reading ended the two weeks at around four, given the month’s end average daily volume.
During the short interest period, Weatherford saw an analyst downgrade with a big target price cut. Short sellers watched the share price fall about 56% but recover a little by the end of the month. The stock has pulled back a bit again this month and closed most recently at $1.13 a share. The 52-week low of $1.09 was seen this past week. The 52-week high, from last January, was $4.41. Now the stock is down 61% or so from three months ago.
The number of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s (NYSE: CHK) shares short increased more than 9% in the most recent period, and this oil and gas company ticked up one spot on the list. The reported short interest of over 118.97 million shares was 13.3% of the total float. The year-to-date peak back in March was over 210 million shares short. At the posted daily average trading volume on the latest settlement date, it would take about three days to cover all the short positions.
In a time when Chesapeake has sold assets to pay down debt, it announced an acquisition during the short interest period. Short sellers watched its share price rise more than 7% but then end those two weeks down around 22%. The stock is trading about 4% lower than a week ago, and it ended Friday at $3.63 a share. That still is almost 12% higher in the past 90 days. Shares have changed hands as high as $5.60 and as low as $2.53 in the past year.
And the Rest
Rounding out the top 10 were Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) and Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG). The number of shares short shrank for all four of them, led a double-digit percentage decline at Ford.
Lingering just outside of the spotlight of the top 10 again was Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Note that Infosys Ltd. (NYSE: INFY) continued to retreat from the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks with another double-digit percentage decline. And Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) saw a huge surge in its shares sold short, but it remains well out of the top 10 for now.
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