Short-sellers hate being caught short a stock that reports a blowout quarter. When this happens, we often see a tradable short squeeze develop as the bears rush to cover their positions. Even the best short-sellers know, it's never a great idea to stay short once a bullish earnings report sparks a big short-covering rally.

This is why I scan the market for heavily shorted stocks that are about to report earnings. You only need to find a few of these stocks every week to help enhance your portfolio returns.

With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks that could experience big short squeezes when they report earnings this week.

Apogee Enterprises

My first earnings short-squeeze play is industrial goods player Apogee Enterprises (APOG - Get Report) , which is set to release numbers on Thursday before the market open. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Apogee Enterprises to report revenue of $291.79 million on earnings of 72 cents per share.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Apogee Enterprises is very high at 18.3%. That means that out of the 27.97 million shares in the tradable float, 5.14 million shares are sold short by the bears.

I would wait until after Apogee Enterprises reports, and then look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above some near-term resistance at $59.98 to its 52-week high of $61 with volume that hits near or above 202,916 shares. If that breakout fires off post-earnings, this stock will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $65 to $70 a share.

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Pier 1 Imports

Another potential earnings short-squeeze trade idea is specialty retailer Pier 1 Imports (PIR - Get Report) , which is set to release numbers on Wednesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Pier 1 Imports to report revenue of $529.83 million on earnings of 33 cents per share.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Pier 1 Imports is very high at 16.5%. That means that out of the 76.67 million shares in the tradable float, 12.66 million shares are sold short by the bears.

I would wait until after Pier 1 Imports reports, and then look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above some near-term resistance levels at $7.63 to $7.65 with volume that hits near or above 2.44 million shares. If that breakout hits post-earnings, this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its major resistance levels at $8.50 to $9.15, or even its 52-week high of $9.68 a share.

Bank of the Ozarks

Another potential earnings short-squeeze candidate is regional banking player Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK) , which is set to release numbers on Tuesday before the market open. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Bank of the Ozarks to report revenue of $226.57 million on earnings of 72 cents per share.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Bank of the Ozarks is pretty high at 13.3%. That means that out of the 113.40 million shares in the tradable float, 15.12 million shares are sold short by the bears.

I would wait until after Bank of the Ozarks reports, and then look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above a near-term downtrend line that starts over its 20-day at $51.25 to $52.49 and then above its 50-day at $53.56 with volume that hits near or above 1.17 million shares. If that breakout materializes post-earnings, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high of $56.86 a share.

Fastenal

Another earnings short-squeeze prospect is industrial equipment wholesaler Fastenal (FAST - Get Report) , which is set to release numbers on Wednesday before the market open. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Fastenal to report revenue of $1.04 billion on earnings of 46 cents per share.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Fastenal stands at 6%. That means that out of 288.54 million shares in the tradable float, 17.43 million shares are sold short by the bear.

I would wait until after Fastenal reports, and then look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above its 50-day at $50.73 and its 20-day at $51.16 and then above its 52-week high of $52.74 with volume that hits near or above 2.26 million shares. If that breakout triggers post-earnings, this stock will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $60 to $65 a share.

First Horizon National

My final earnings short-squeeze trading opportunity is regional banking player First Horizon National (FHN - Get Report) , which is set to release numbers on Thursday before the market open. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect First Horizon National to report revenue of $324.73 million on earnings of 23 cents per share.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for First Horizon National is notable at 4%. That means that out of the 230.13 million shares in the tradable float, 9.37 million shares are sold short by the bears.

I would wait until after First Horizon National reports, and then look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above a near-term downtrend line that starts over $18.75 to $18.98 and then above its 50-day at $19.31 with volume that hits near or above 2.45 million shares. If that breakout develops post-earnings, then this stock will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $20.72 to its 52-week high of $20.84, or even $23 to $25 a share.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.