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5 Short-Squeeze Plays Set to Pop

Tickers in this article: JCP GRPN ACAT OPNT LWAY
WINDERMERE, Fla. ( Stockpickr) -- 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 to avoid big losses. Even the best short-sellers know that 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 in a year to help enhance your portfolio returns -- the gains become so outsized in such a short timeframe that your profits add up quickly.

That said, let's not forget that stocks are heavily shorted for a reason, so you have to use trading discipline and sound money management when playing earnings short-squeeze candidates. It's important that you don't go betting the farm on these plays and that you manage your risk accordingly. Sometimes the best play is to wait for the stock to break out following the report before you jump in to profit off a short squeeze. This way, you're letting the trend emerge after the market has digested all of the news.

>> Also see : 8 Stocks Ripping Higher on Big Volume

Of course, sometimes the stock is going to be in such high demand that you risk missing a lot of the move. That's why it can be worth betting prior to the report - buy only if you have a very strong conviction that the stock is going to rip higher, and its acting technically very bullish. Remember, even when you have that conviction and you have done your due diligence, the stock can still get hammered if the street doesn't like the numbers or guidance.

If you do decide to bet ahead of a quarter, then you might want to use options to limit your capital exposure. Heavily shorted stocks are usually the names that make the biggest post-earnings moves and have the most volatility. I personally prefer to wait until all the earnings-related news is out, and then jump in and trade the prevailing trend on a heavily shorted stock that's reporting its numbers.

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

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J.C. Penney

My first earnings short-squeeze trade idea is department and discount store player J.C. Penney (JCP) , which is set to release its numbers on Tuesday before the market open. This company's business consists of selling merchandise and services to consumers through its department stores and through its Internet Website at Wall Street analysts, on average, expect J.C. Penney to report revenues of $3.48 billion on a loss of 10 cents per share.