Since everyone loves a winner, it's reasonable to assume that everyone hates a loser -- everyone but short-sellers, at least. These contrarian investors bet that hot stocks are primed to fall, aiming to turn their pessimism into profits.

This week we'll take a look at companies on the American Stock Exchange with the largest number of shares sold short as a percentage of a company's float. Combining that with the collective intelligence of Motley Fool CAPS, we'll see which of these companies Fools believe have the power to make short work of short-sellers.

Company

Shares Short-Oct. 15

Shares Short-Sept. 30

% Change

%  Float

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Orleans Homebuilders

2.00

2.10

(4.3%)

41.4%

*

GreenHunter Energy

0.59

0.68

(12.6%)

26.4%

***

InterOil (AMEX:IOC)

6.23

6.56

(5.0%)

25.2%

*

Cheniere Energy (AMEX:LNG)

11.78

13.01

(9.5%)

25.0%

**

American Apparel (AMEX:APP)

6.97

6.70

4.0%

24.5%

**

Ener1 (AMEX:HEV)

7.66

8.80

(13.0%)

19.5%

*

Apex Silver Mines (AMEX:SIL)

8.36

8.65

(3.3%)

17.6%

***

Grey Wolf (AMEX:GW)

29.91

24.66

21.3%

17.3%

*****

iMergent

1.24

1.35

(7.7%)

16.5%

*

Tri-Valley (AMEX:TIV)

2.96

3.33

(11.2%)

13.4%

*

 Sources: wsj.com. Share counts in millions.

Of course, this isn't a list of stocks to buy -- or short! These stocks could have serious problems that warranted their short interest, but they might also be stricken by short-term troubles. Only Foolish due diligence will tell you for certain; our 120,000-strong CAPS community offers such a good place to start.

The short list
Racy teen retailer American Apparel often seems to be operating under the assumption that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Yet recent allegations that the company wanted to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit by using a sham arbitration ruling that would let its CEO proclaim there was no wrongdoing -- even as it allegedly offered $1.3 million to the plaintiff -- seems beyond the pale.

Nevertheless, a month ago, top-rated CAPS All-Star TMFLomax found something appealing about the stock:

Risky, oh, so risky. I'm not saying it's not. I wrote about its riskiness here: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2008/08/15/sneak-a-peek-at-3-racy-retailers.aspx

However, despite the currently scary times for retail and risky elements connected to the founder's behavior at times (then again, the founder's also a visionary, I think), I'm going thumbs up on this one.

Meanwhile, last week, natural gas provider Cheniere Energy attracted the notice of CAPS All-Star Alwaysgolong, who finds the company to be on its game:

My Son in law works for an engineering / construction company which placed him in Sabine Pass Texas for a year building HUGE LNG tanks right where hurricane Rita had wiped everything else out.

I visited this FEMA trailer neighborhood with little more on my mind than grandkids and off shore fishing. But being an industry guy I was overwhelmed with intrigue by the size and scope of what was being built in this alligator infested swamp where misquitos's are big enough to breed with chickens.

Unloading facilty, pipeline, tanks. Magnificent! So I investigated a little further. This company may be a little over drawn at the bank because it has spent TONS on this and other projects, but the payoff is coming. Being an Industrial firefighter for over 15 years, I can tell you from the late mandates of training young knotheads on LNG that Transporting, Storing and marketing LNG is going to be bigger than LPG ever was, and Cheneire appears to be ahead of the curve.

Don't sell yourself short
It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made -- all from a stock's CAPS page. Then share your views with the CAPS community: Squeeze 'em til it hurts, or short 'em til the sun don't shine? May the best argument prevail!

Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. We're leading the way in this tumultuous environment and we live to educate, amuse, and enrich you.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. There's no shortcut around The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.