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Short Interest Movers: Liberty Global (LBTYA), Molina Healthcare (MOH), PPG Industries (PPG), and Enterprise Products (EPD)

LBTYA, MOH, PPG, and EPD see notable changes in short interest during the past two weeks

by 3/4/2013 12:30:55 PM
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The bi-weekly list of tickers with the 25 biggest gains and declines in short interest includes a major international telecommunications firm, an industrial coatings manufacturer, a healthcare concern, and a natural gas provider. No individual candidate for a short-squeeze rally stands out, but there still are some tickers to take note of.

Short Interest Increases

  • Liberty Global Inc. (NASDAQ:LBTYA - 69.33) saw its short interest skyrocket more than fivefold (514%) over the last two weeks -- the largest gain on the list. But short interest in LBTYA still only represents about 7% of the total float, and it would only take 2.5 days for short sellers to unwind their positions, so a short-squeeze rally is probably unlikely. (That's when a run up in a stock's price is accelerated when short sellers opt to exit their positions quickly because of a positive uptick). And LBTYA shares have been on a run, outperforming the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 11.6 percentage points over the last three months, and have recovered from a recent dip to make another run at its annual high of $70.65 set on Feb. 1. Also, the international cable, satellite and telephony provider has been a hit with bulls in the option pits as well. LBTYA's 50-day call/put volume ratio for options bought to open on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) reads 4.47 -- meaning traders are buying nearly 4.5 as many calls than puts. In addition, the ratio stands in the top 15% of readings taken in the last year, meaning this preference for calls has rarely been as high.

  • Molina Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:MOH - 31.64) had a 176% increase in short interest over the last two weeks, and short interest now stands at 14% of the company's current total float. At current average trading volumes, it would take these bearish short traders nearly three days to unwind their positions. This might not be quite enough fuel for a short-squeeze rally yet, but it's getting closer. MOH has had good results on the charts lately, gaining nearly 17% on the year so far. That has pushed MOH closer to the annual highs hit last March before the shares fell steeply on April 9. Again, short-term option traders remain bullish on this equity: the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands at 0.37, and that is lower than 91% of other readings in the last year.
List of Largest Short Interest Increases

Short Interest Decreases

  • There were two tickers each with a 61% drop in short interest over the last two weeks, the first of which is PPG Industries, Inc. (NYSE:PPG - 135.05). That short interest accounts for nearly 10% of PPG's outstanding stock, and it would take almost three days to unwind those positions. There could be a reason for the bearish short traders to be exiting their positions, as the stock has been continuing its climb that began after hitting its annual low nearly this same time last year. PPG has gained more than 45% in the last 12 months, although it has backslid lately after hitting its annual high of $147.99 on Jan. 25 and is essentially flat for the year to date. Sentiment is mixed on PPG in the option pits. The equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio is 2.58 on the ISE/CBOE/PHLX, and ranks in the 73rd percentile of similar readings in the last 12 months -- indicating a more bullish stance recently. But the 50-day put/call ratio stands at 0.79, which might be considered low on an absolute basis but stands in the 76th percentile -- indicating longer-range traders are more bearish recently.

  • The other ticker with a 61% drop in short interest was natural gas miner and distributor Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD - 56.80). Short interest now accounts for less than 1% of the stock's total float, and it would only take a half a day of trading for short sellers to exit. Technically, EPD hit an all-time high of $57.69 on Valentine's Day last month, and is threatening that level again -- gaining more than 13% on the year so far and nearly 9% over the last 12 months. And the stock's 30-day moving average perched at about $56 is clearly providing some support up the charts. Options-wise, traders appear to be buying the good news. Data from the ISE/CBOE/PHLX show that EPD's 10-day call/put volume ratio stands at 2.58, meaning traders are picking up more than 2.5 calls for every put. And that ranks in the top 26% of similar data from the last 12 months -- indicating call buying has been more popular than usual during the past 10 weeks.
List of Largest Short Interest Decreases
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