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These are the stocks investors are betting the most against heading into earnings

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The S & P 500 is off its June lows, and a handful of heavily shorted stocks are poised to pop if the market sees a meaningful rebound. A short squeeze takes place when investors borrow shares of a company, hoping the price will decline, but the price rises instead. In that event, these short sellers are forced to buy shares of the stock to avoid greater losses. On Friday, CNBC Pro compiled a list of the most heavily shorted stocks within the S & P 1500, using data from FactSet. Each stock is down from its highs by double digits. The names are sorted by those with the highest short interest as a percentage of their total “float,” or the number of shares available for public investors to trade. Retailer Big Lots tops the list, with short interest at 41.8% of its float. The stock is off by more than 60% from its 52-week high. Several other retail names are behind it on the list, including furniture chain Conn’s (41.3% short interest), Bed Bath & Beyond (36.8% short interest), Dick’s Sporting Goods (26.9%), American Eagle Outfitters (22.1%), Guess? Inc (21.8%) and PetMed Express (25%). Of the top 10 stocks with the highest short interest, Bed Bath & Beyond has fallen the farthest from its 52-week high, tumbling more than 80%.

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