29 Stocks Traders Are Shorting Like Crazy

This year has been a rough year for traders shorting the stock market.

In fact, the most heavily-shorted stocks have been outperforming the S&P 500.

Still, the shorts are holding strong and waiting patiently to clean-up when stock prices fall.

In our latest list of stocks traders are shorting like crazy, some popular targets have fallen off. For instance: Best Buy, Netflix, and First Solar, who have each recently appeared in this space, are out.

Instead, short sellers seem to have shifted their focus to oil, gas and raw materials stocks, which continue to face exposure to falling prices.

There do remain some old standbys in for-profit education and retail.

We ranked the stocks by short interest as a percentage of floating shares.

Bill Barrett Corp

Ticker: BBG

Short interest: 28%

YTD return: 62%

Sector: Oil and gas

Comment: Bill Barrett has been able to increase the share of oil in its production stream to 25% from only 2% in 2008 to overcome low natural gas prices, but investors still seem unconvinced.

Data from Bloomberg

IMAX

Ticker: IMAX

Short interest: 28%

YTD return: 29%

Sector: Entertainment

Comment: IMAX shares could suffer if the New York Times' August report on waning interest in 3-D films holds.

Data from Bloomberg

Aeropostale

Ticker: ARO

Short interest: 29%

YTD return: -27%

Sector: Retail

Comment: Aeropostale is the worst-performing teen-clothing stock of the last three years, and is now considered a buyout target after a series of what Bloomberg's Tara LaChapelle describes as 'fashion misfires.'

Data from Bloomberg

InterOil Corp.

Ticker: IOC

Short interest: 29%

YTD return: 18%

Sector: Oil and gas

Comment: InterOil's talks with Exxon over a natural gas facility recently faltered.

Data from Bloomberg

3D Systems Corp

Ticker: DDD

Short interest: 29%

YTD return: 69%

Sector: 3-D manufacturing and printing

Comment: 3D systems and other companies in the 3-D space continue to face investors who doubt the future of their technology.

Data from Bloomberg

Freescale Semiconductor

Ticker: FSL

Short interest: 30%

YTD return: 36%

Sector: Semiconductors

Comment: Freescale saw sales in two important divisions stagnate in its most recent fiscal quarter.

Data from Bloomberg

Miller Energy Resources

Ticker: MILL

Short interest: 31%

YTD return: 61%

Sector: Oil and natural gas exploration

Comment: Miller's last two fiscal Q1s have seen operating losses.

Data from Bloomberg

U.S. Steel

Ticker: X

Short interest: 31%

YTD return: 0%

Sector: Steel

Comment: US Steel was just downgraded to 'hold' from 'buy' by Deutsche Bank, which said its competitors offer better risk-reward plays.

Data from Bloomberg

PHH Corp.

Ticker: PHH

Short interest: 31%

YTD return: 4%

Sector: Business services

Comment: PHH was just downgraded to 'neutral' from 'buy' by Sterne Agee, which said it is overvalued.

Data from Bloomberg

Polypore International

Ticker: PPO

Short interest: 31%

YTD return: -8%

Sector: Battery technology

Comment: Polypore at one point lost as much as 10% in September after William Blair expressed concern about the pace of consumer demand in electric vehicles.

Data from Bloomberg

LeapFrog Enterprises

Ticker: LF

Short interest: 32%

YTD return: -1%

Sector: Children's education

Comment: LeapFrog shares have lost -27% since the beginning of August. The company was downgraded in September by BMO Capital Markets to 'market perform' from 'outperform' on lack of confidence in the company's newest product line.

Data from Bloomberg

Alon USA Energy

Ticker: ALJ

Short interest: 32%

YTD return: -34%

Sector: Refining

Comment: Alon told investors in its most recent fiscal quarter that the company had seen sharp cost increases from rising renewable fuel mandate prices.

Data from Bloomberg

ITT

Ticker: ESI

Short interest: 33%

YTD return: 66%

Sector: Education

Comment: ITT shares were recently confirmed as 'neutral' by Merrill Lynch. The for-profit sector faces risks including fiscal uncertainty and competition from online courses.

Data from Bloomberg

Walter Energy

Ticker: WLT

Short interest: 34%

YTD return: -54%

Sector: Coal

Comment: Walter's earnings missed expectations on falling coal prices in its most recent fiscal quarter.

Data from Bloomberg

USEC

Ticker: USU

Short interest: 35%

YTD return: -46%

Sector: Uranium

Comment: USEC shares have fallen more than 80% to below $US10 in the past two years as the nuclear industry confronts competition from cheap natural gas.

Data from Bloomberg

RadioShack

Ticker: RSH

Short interest: 36%

YTD return: 29%

Sector: Retail

Comment: RadioShack's CEO recently warned that investors 'should expect an uneven performance over the next few quarters as the company implemented' overhauling its stores, The Motley Fool reported.

Data from Bloomberg

Western Refining

Ticker: WNR

Short interest: 37%

YTD return: 12%

Sector: Refining

Comment: Western's net income fell sharply on weaker margins in its most recent fiscal quarter.

Data from Bloomberg

U.S. Silica Holdings

Ticker: SLCA

Short interest: 37%

YTD return: 98%

Sector: Refining

Comment: U.S. Silica shares are subject to strong short interest because of the belief PE firm Golden Gate Capital will begin selling down its large position, Wells Fargo said in a recent note. The bank also downgraded the shares to 'market perform' from 'outperform.'

Data from Bloomberg

InvenSense

Ticker: INVN

Short interest: 39%

YTD return: 40%

Sector: Mobile

Comment: InvenSense shares have fallen more than -10% in the last 30 days. The stock was dowgraded Oct. 30 by Roth Capital Partners on the company's weak guidance and a slowdown in high-end smartphone demand.

Data from Bloomberg

GenCorp

Ticker: GY

Short interest: 39%

YTD return: 77%

Sector: Aerospace and defence

Comment: GenCorp's Aerojet unit saw a 14.5% decline in non-GAAP profits in the most recent fiscal quarter.

Data from Bloomberg

Molycorp

Ticker: GY

Short interest: 39%

YTD return: -52%

Sector: Rare earths and metals

Comment: Molycorp has been hit hard by falling commodity prices.

Data from Bloomberg

Intrexon

Ticker: XON

Short interest: 41%

YTD return: -16%

Sector: Biotech

Comment: Intrexon IPO'd just this August, and shares have already lost about -16% of their value.

Data from Bloomberg

Blyth

Ticker: BTH

Short interest: 83%

YTD return: -18%

Sector: Direct-to-consumer marketing

Comment: Blyth sales fell 33% in its most recent fiscal quarter on poor performance by one of its marketing subsidiaries.

Data from Bloomberg

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