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Acacia, Exxon And Other Hot Stocks Among Short Sellers

February 7, 2017 3:10 pm
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Acacia, Exxon And Other Hot Stocks Among Short Sellers

Astec Analytics is a provider of timely and accurate intra-day short selling data and information, which helps investors better understand changes in investor sentiment.

This week's report includes a few of the same companies that were highlighted in the prior report along with new entrants.

Top Pick: British American Tobacco

Shares of British American Tobacco PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BTI) hit a 12-month low of around $106 back in November after trading as high as $131 a few months prior.

Short sellers were active when the stock was trading between $111 and $115 and short interest in the stock hit nearly 90 percent of the available supply. Meanwhile, the stock closed last week at $125, up nearly 20 percent from the November lows.

Short volume rose 88 percent since the start of 2017 and closed last week at 92 percent of the available supply, which suggests that investors are assuming the stock will run out of puff soon.

1. Exxon

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM)'s fourth quarter earnings report marked the company's weakest financial year dating back to 1998.

In the days leading into Exxon's report, the stock fell to $82.94 from $85.51 and closed last week at $83.54, net down 2 percent. Meanwhile, short activity hit a 12-month low on January 30 but has since risen 18 percent. The small incremental increase in short interest in the stock may indicate short sellers are actually expecting a recovery for Exxon's stock – a view that's emphasized by the expectation of favorable domestic policies from the Trump Administration and an OPEC production cut.

2. Under Armour

Under Armour Inc (NYSE:UAA)'s stock is no stranger to the short list as the company is slowly developing a reputation of failing to live up to market expectations.

Under Armour's fourth quarter earnings report emphasized this view as revenue for the quarter fell short of expectations and CFO Chip Molloy announced his resignation. This resulted in a near 30 percent collapse in the stock and shares are now lower by more than 50 percent from its 12-month peak of $46.99.

Over the past week, short sellers added 5 percent by volume to their short position while at the same time new lending supply brought the short volume down 25 percent as a percentage of shares available.

3. Ziopharm Oncology

ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ:ZIOP), a recurring name on the short list, saw its short interest grow by just 0.5 percent last week. However, as a proportion of the supply, volumes fell 7 percent which may signal that long investors are now crowding into the stock.

Nevertheless, short interest remains "resilient" and the stock is still more than $2.50 below the 12-month peak, which implies short sellers also "have room to maneuver."

4. Sears Holdings

Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) fell to a 12-month low while at the same time short interest rose 18 percent and is within striking distance of the 12-month high.

Short interest as a proportion of supply also rose last week to 92 percent from 82 percent which shows how committed short sellers are.

Acacia Communications

Closing out the hot short list is Acacia Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACIA).

The company's stock quickly soared above $120 following its IPO in July, but the stock has since reversed course amid an inability to capitalize on its market share.

The stock is trading well below its peak, but is also trading substantially above its IPO price. However, short sellers are adding to their position as last week volumes rose 28 percent to hit a new high.

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