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5 Defensive Stock Short-Squeeze Plays

BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Is it time to get defensive with your portfolio? If trailing returns for the last quarter are any indication, it is.

That's because the last few months have brought outsized returns from traditionally defensive industries -- groups such as health care, utilities and consumer staples.

There are a few reasons why that's the case right now. Most significantly, inflationary headwinds and concerns over the health of the economy are making investors skittish about risk assets -- instead, they're flocking to "safer" income generation instruments. It's that behavior that's creating a potential short-squeeze opportunity right now.

Related: 30 Large-Cap Stocks to Beat the S&P 500

A short squeeze is the buying frenzy that ensues when a heavily shorted stock starts to look attractive again to investors, causing short-sellers to cover their positions -- and share price to skyrocket. One of the best indicators of just how high a short-squeezed stock could go is the short interest ratio, which divides shares short by average daily trading volume in order to get a ballpark estimate of the number of days it would take for short-sellers to cover their positions. The higher the short ratio, the higher the potential profits when the shorts get squeezed.

Naturally, these plays aren't without their blemishes -- there's a reason that these stocks are being heavily shorted. But for investors looking for exposure to a speculative play with a beefier risk/reward tradeoff, these could be powerful upside plays for the coming year.

There are plenty of reasons why stocks in defensive industries may be shorted -- but because they're fundamentally driven investment stories, mispricing and overzealous shorts often shake themselves out quickly. That's why we're looking at five defensive short squeeze opportunities this week.

With that, here's a look at defensive stocks with short squeeze potential this summer.

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