Merck Becomes #15 Most Shorted Dow Stock, Replacing Johnson & Johnson

The most recent short interest data has been released by the NASDAQ for the 12/13/2013 settlement date, and we here at Dividend Channel like to sift through this fresh data and order the underlying components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average by "days to cover." There are a number of ways to look at short data, for example the total number of shares short; but one metric that we find particularly useful is the "days to cover" metric because it considers both the total shares short and the average daily volume of shares typically traded. The number of shares short is then compared to the average daily volume, in order to calculate the total number of trading days it would take to close out all of the open short positions if every share traded represented a short position being closed.

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In our new rank based on the most recent short interest data from NASDAQ, Merck & Co., Inc ( MRK) has taken over the position of #15 most shorted Dow component, from Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) which is now in the #14 spot. The "days to cover" at 12/13/2013 was 2.76 for MRK, and 2.77 for JNJ; this compares to the average across all Dow components of 3.35. The chart below shows the movement over time of the "days to cover" values of both MRK and JNJ, versus the average Dow component.

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Below is a chart showing the relative positions of MRK versus JNJ over time within the 30 Dow components, with #1 representing the component with the highest "days to cover" value (most heavily shorted) and #30 representing the component with the lowest "days to cover" value (least heavily shorted):

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