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It may seem surprising that a staid blue-chip name such as
Johnson & Johnson(JNJ - Get Report) could top off our list of hated stocks, but investors are piling in against this stock right now. As I write, JNJ's short interest ratio comes in at 10.7, which indicates that it would take more than two full weeks of buying pressure for shorts to exit their bets under current volume levels. That makes this $215 billion health care company a prime candidate for a short squeeze this year.
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Johnson & Johnson may be best known for its prolific line of consumer medical products, such as Band-Aid bandages and baby shampoo, but its business also includes more complex pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well. In fact, that's a big part of JNJ's big short interest right now, with investors anxious about the pharma industry as a whole thanks to looming patent losses.
But JNJ is one of the best-positioned pharma firms, so its biggest source of profitability isn't in much peril. Meanwhile, the other business units provide stellar diversification in what's already a defensive industry.
Financially, Johnson & Johnson is in stellar shape. The firm carries a $21 billion cash position on its balance sheet, with around $5 billion of that sticking around net of total debt. That gives JNJ plenty of financial security in 2013, and it helps to secure the firm's 3.1% dividend payout right now.
Expect shares' 12.5% rally year-to-date to carry on to the second quarter.