Overall, the short interest moves in troubled retail companies were mixed again during the latter weeks of August.
However, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: RAD) saw upswings of more than 30 percent in the number of their shares sold short.
The short interest in Avon Products (NYSE: PSUN) rose nearly 10 percent between the August 15 and August 30 settlement dates.
Short sellers also moved into Best Buy (NYSE: JCP), Office Depot (NYSE: ODP), Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) and SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU) more modestly.
However, OfficeMax (NYSE: OMX) saw the biggest retreat by short sellers during the period. Short interest in Bebe Stores (NASDAQ: BEBE), Bon-Ton Stores (NASDAQ: BONT), GameStop (NYSE: GME) and RadioShack (NYSE: RSH) also declined somewhat in late August.
Below is a quick look at how Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax and Rite Aid have fared and what analysts expect from them.
See also: Short Interest Surges in Real Goods Solar and SunEdison
Barnes & Noble
After falling in the previous two periods, short interest in this New York-based specialty retailer jumped about 34 percent to more than 8.30 million shares, the highest number of shares sold short since April. That represented more than 23 percent of the float. Days to cover declined from about nine to less than four.
The company said its net loss widened in the first quarter, and it abandoned plans to separate its Nook and retail operations. Barnes & Noble has a market capitalization near $800 million. Note that the operating margin and the return on equity are both in negative territory.
The consensus recommendation of the analysts surveyed is to hold shares, and it has been for at least three months. Their mean price target, or where the analysts expect the share price to go, is more than 25 percent higher than the current share price. Yet that target is less than the 52-week high.
The share price is almost 25 percent lower than a month ago, as well as down almost five percent relative to the beginning of the year. Over the past six months, the stock has underperformed Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) and the broader markets.
This Illinois-based office products retailer saw short interest retreat about 12 percent in the final weeks of the month to more than 8.76 million shares, which was more than 10 percent of the float. That followed a decline of about 19 percent in the previous period. Days to cover fell to more than five.
Disappointing second-quarter results from rival Staples (NYSE: SPLS) dragged down Office Max and Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) as well during the period. OfficeMax has a dividend yield near 0.7 percent. Its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is less than the industry average, and the return on equity is more than 44 percent.
Only four of the 12 analysts who follow OfficeMax recommend buying shares, while the rest recommend holding them. The mean price target indicates that the analysts see more than 13 percent potential upside. Here too, that target is less than the 52-week high.
Shares have traded mostly between $10.50 and $11.50 since June, but the share price is up almost 19 percent year-to-date. Over the past six months, the stock has underperformed the S&P 500 and the competitors mentioned above, as well as Walmart (NYSE: WMT).
After two consecutive periods of declining short interest, shares sold short in this drugstore operator surged about 32 percent in late August to around 33.54 million. That represented more than three percent of the float. The days to cover rose to more than two in the period.
Rite Aid is the nation's third-largest drugstore chain, and Jim Cramer and David Einhorn both supported the stock during the period. The company's market cap is more than $3 billion. Its long-term EPS growth forecast is about eight percent, and its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is less than the industry average.
Three of the seven analysts polled recommend buying shares, and the other four recommend holding them. The share price has overrun their mean price, meaning the analysts see no upside potential at this time. The street-high price target is less than 10 percent higher than the current share price.
After rising more than 161 percent since the beginning of the year, the share price reached a new multiyear high Wednesday. The stock has outperformed larger competitors CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) and Walgreen (NYSE: WAG), as well as the S&P 500, over the past six months.
See also: Short Sellers Load Up On Applied Materials And Other Chip Stocks
At the time of this writing, the author had no position in the mentioned equities.
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
EconomicsWe share some insights on how the recent terrorist attacks in Paris could impact the economy and markets going forward.
EconomicsWill remaining calm and staying long present significant risks to your investment health?
EconomicsDue to creative measures by central banks, there is no telling when a recession will actually occur, but natural economic forces will eventually win.
InvestingAs an alternative investment, income-seeking investors may turn to dividend-paying exchange traded funds (ETFs) as a way to seek both income and growth.
Stock AnalysisThe stock market can't seem to make up its mind. Will investors end up with coal for Christmas or might their wishes come true?
EconomicsDiscover which countries produce the most oil in the Middle East, a region long known for its influence on international petroleum markets.
EconomicsDiscover which African countries produce the most oil, and learn more about which domestic and international oil companies operate in each country.
EconomicsFind out which countries produce the most oil in Latin America, and learn about some of the biggest oil companies operating in each country.
Stock AnalysisLearn about the top energy companies in Russia, a country that holds some of the largest reserves of oil, natural gas and coal in the world.
Stock AnalysisLearn which Asian countries deliver the most crude oil to market, and discover what companies are the biggest producers in each country.
An industry agency council was established by the World Economic Forum in 2014 to serve as an advisory board on the future ... Read Full Answer >>
The railroads sector is comprised of publicly traded stocks for companies that operate railroad tracks and/or trains. Railroad ... Read Full Answer >>
Biotech giant Amgen Inc (AMGN) bills itself as one of the first biotechnology firms. It was founded in 1980 and has grown ... Read Full Answer >>
Back in late August 2012, Apple’s (AAPL) stock price reached nearly $700 per share. The stock has since split but has yet ... Read Full Answer >>