Last week, the latest numbers came out on the short interest for stocks, or in other words, the number of shares shorted. One of the industries that was hit hard over the summer, and has generated negative concerns due to the possible connection to the subprime problems, is the investment brokerage field.

Many traders have taken extensive short positions in some of these stocks. The brokerage stocks with the greatest short interest, as measured by the short ratio metric, can be found at Stockpickr.

The short ratio is also called the "Days to Cover Ratio," which is the number of days the short sellers would need to cover their positions based on the average daily trading volume of shares.

The stocks with the higher short ratios, can have greater price spikes when unexpected good news is announced, since the short sellers run to cover their short positions by buying in their shorted shares. For example, earnings above analysts' expectations can cause the stocks to spike from the short-covering.

A stock with one of the highest short ratios on the list is Interactive Brokers ( IBKR - Get Report), with a short ratio of 17. Interactive is an automated global electronic market maker and investment broker, which has a forward price to earnings ratio of 17. The company announced on Sept. 24 that it will now offer trading in Australian stocks and options.

Interactive appears in the Barron's: Two Stocks for a Tough Market portfolio at Stockpickr. The other stock in this two-stock portfolio is CME Group ( CME - Get Report), which has a short ratio of 4. You may know CME as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Another investment broker with a high short ratio is KBW ( KBW), the New York City-based investment banker. The stock has a short ratio of 14, with a price-to-earnings ratio of 16 and a P/E to growth ratio of 1.5. KBW announced earlier this month that it is expanding its research coverage to include equity REITs, or real estate investment trusts.

KBW is owned by Cordillera Asset Management, a Denver, Colo.-based money manager specializing in small-cap growth companies.

Some of the other companies that Cordillera owns are Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG - Get Report), with a short ratio of 8; Under Armour ( UA - Get Report), with a short ratio of 5; and Psychiatric Solutions ( PSYS), which has a very high short ratio of 16.

optionsXpress Holdings ( OXPS) is another online retail brokerage platform that has a high short ratio. This provider of browser-based technology logs in with a short ratio of 12. The stock has a P/E of 20 and a PEG of 0.74. As a bonus, it pays a yield of 1%.

optionsXpress is in The Forbes Top 10 portfolio, which is a list of the top 10 small companies in the U.S., with a respectable return on equity and 12-month and five-year growth figures for sales and net profits. The Forbes list also includes Nutrisystem ( NTRI - Get Report), with a fairly high short ratio of 12; and Hansen Natural ( HANS), with a short ratio of nearly 4.

The entire list of the investment brokerage stocks with the greatest short interest, including one that has a short ratio of 22.2, can be found at Stockpickr.

At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs a fund of hedge funds. He is also a weekly columnist for The Financial Times and the author of Trade Like a Hedge Fund, Trade Like Warren Buffett and SuperCa$h. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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