Investing

The 6 Most Shorted NYSE Stocks

Bank of America
> Shares short:
More than 132.40 million
> Change from prior period: −8.2%
> Percentage of float: 1.4

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) drops one spot down the most shorted NYSE stock list for the second period in a row. The latest reading was the smallest number of shares short since last November. After a notable decrease in the daily average volume during the most recent period, it would take about two days to cover all short positions.

Bank of America was one of the banks recently identified as receiving the most customer complaints last year. Short sellers watched its share price increase more than 9% by the latest settlement date and keep rising afterward.

The stock closed most recently at $29.58 a share, after climbing around 20% since the start of the year. The shares have changed hands between $22.66 and $33.05 apiece in the past 52 weeks, with that low seen on Christmas Eve.

J.C. Penney
> Shares short:
More than 120.05 million
> Change from prior period: −1.8%
> Percentage of float: 39.9

That was the lowest number of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) shares short since last April. It would take about 10 days for sellers to cover their short positions at the latest daily average trading volume. Note that this stock had topped the most shorted NYSE stocks list back in November.

This struggling retailer is poised to shutter more stores this spring, as the new CEO tries to find a way to keep the company afloat. The share price ended those two weeks almost 30% higher, but note that it had been up more than 38% during the interval.

However, the stock pulled back sharply afterward but has recovered and closed most recently at $1.35 a share. That is nearly 30% higher year to date. The 52-week low, seen late last month, was $0.92, while the 52-week high of $4.75 was reached early last year.

Alibaba
> Shares short:
More than 116.49 million
> Change from prior period: 1.8%
> Percentage of float: 4.5

This is the greatest level of short interest at Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) since last August. And note that the daily average volume has decreased for three consecutive periods, so as of mid-January it would take about seven days for short sellers to cover their positions.

Some are predicting that the Chinese e-commerce giant will make a large and splashy acquisition in Europe this year. The share price ended the first two weeks of January more than 12% higher, and since then it has continued to rise.

The stock closed Friday’s trading at $159.21 a share. That is about 16% higher than at the first of the month. The 52-week low of $129.77 was seen during the Christmas Eve sell-off, and the 52-week high of $211.70 was reached last June.

And the Rest

Rounding out the top 10 were Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL). The two telecoms rejoined the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks in the most recent period with gains of 8% or so. The other two saw very modest declines in the numbers of their shares short.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and Infosys Ltd. (NYSE: INFY) were the ones that slipped out of the top 10 in this period. Lingering along with them outside the spotlight of the top 10 was Energy Transfer L.P. (NYSE: ET). Meanwhile, EnCana Corp. (NYSE: ECA) saw a double-digit percentage gain in the number of its shares short, but yet not enough to get it close to the top 10.

Also note that short sellers piled on Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) — a gain of well more than 200% — between the settlement dates, but so far it remains well outside the top 10.

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