BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- There's no two ways about it -- it stinks to be an income investor right now.
There are two pretty important metrics that measure just how well off income investors are: how much they're getting and how much they're losing. With rates being held down near historic lows, how much they're getting isn't much. But how much they're losing from inflation is.
That's creating a toxic environment for income-seekers right now, especially in assets that are perceived as "low risk" -- like treasuries.There are some big alternatives, though. For income investors, stocks offer some attractive dividend yields (for major indices it's the highest in two decades, in fact). And some are predisposed to tack big capital gains on top of that. I know that's a big claim, but the data bears it out: Going back over the last decade, buying heavily shorted large and mid-cap stocks (the top two quartiles of all shortable stocks by market capitalization) would have beaten the S&P 500 by 9.28% each and every year. That's some material outperformance during a decade when decent returns were very hard to come by. It's worth noting, though, that market cap matters a lot -- short sellers tend to be right about smaller names, with micro-caps delivering negative returns when the same strategy was used. >>5 Breakout Stock Plays: Must-See Charts Today, we'll replicate the most lucrative side of this strategy with a look at five big-name stocks with high dividend yields that short sellers are piled into right now. These stocks could be prime candidates for a short squeeze in the final push of 2012. In case you're not familiar with the term, a "short squeeze" is the buying frenzy that ensues when a heavily shorted stock starts to look attractive again to investors, causing 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 estimates 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.