Investing

The 6 Most Shorted NYSE Stocks

J.C. Penney
> Shares short:
More than 114.60 million
> Change from prior period: −4.5%
> Percentage of float: 38.1

That was the lowest number of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) shares short since last March. It would take about 20 days for sellers to cover their short positions after the latest daily average trading volume was cut nearly in half. Note that this stock had topped the most shorted NYSE stocks list back in November.

The question now is whether this struggling retailer can avoid going the way that rival Sears has done. J.C. Penney’s share price ended those two weeks marginally lower, having recovered from about a 9% decline during the interval. That recovery has not stuck, though.

The stock pulled back more than 6% in the past week and closed most recently at $1.26 a share. That is still more than 11% higher year to date. The 52-week low, which was seen late last year, was $0.92, while the 52-week high of $4.75 was reached almost a year ago.

Bank of America
> Shares short:
More than 113.61 million
> Change from prior period: −14.2%
> Percentage of float: 1.2

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

This North Carolina-based financial giant posted fourth-quarter results last month that were better than some of its peers. Short sellers watched its share price increase more than 13% but end up with a gain of less than 9% by the latest settlement date. The stock rose a bit more immediately after.

However, the stock closed most recently at $28.41 a share, after retreating marginally in the past week. The shares have changed hands between $22.66 and $33.05 apiece in the past 52 weeks, with that low posted back on Christmas Eve.

Alibaba
> Shares short:
More than 112.70 million
> Change from prior period: −3.3%
> Percentage of float: 4.4

This was a retreat from the greatest level of short interest at Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) since last August in the previous period. And it ended three consecutive periods in which the daily average volume had decreased. So as of the end of January, it would take about six days for short sellers to cover their positions.

Strong cloud computing revenue growth helped the most recent quarterly results from this Chinese e-commerce giant. The share price ended the final two weeks of January more than 7% higher, boosted late on the period by the earnings report.

The stock closed Friday’s trading at $167.45 a share. That is over 22% higher than at the beginning of the year. The 52-week low of $129.77 was seen during the Christmas Eve sell-off, and the 52-week high of $211.70 was from last June.

And the Rest

Rounding out the top 10 were Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD), Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL). Each of these saw a gain in the number of its shares short, led by the double-digit percentage increases at Encana (the second in a row) and Ford that lifted them into the top 10 most shorted NYSE stocks as of the latest settlement date.

Lingering along with them outside the spotlight of the top 10 were Weatherford International PLC (NYSE: WFT), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Energy Transfer L.P. (NYSE: ET).