Stock Quotes in this Article: GDP, JCOM, MYGN, QUAD, NDLS

DELAFIELD, Wis. (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.

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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 time frame 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.

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

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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 for a heavily shorted stock and then jump in and trade the prevailing trend.

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

Quad/Graphics

My first earnings short-squeeze play is commercial printing services player Quad/Graphics (QUAD), which is set to release numbers on Tuesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Quad/Graphics to report revenue of $1.32 billion on earnings of 92 cents per share.

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The current short interest as a percentage of the float Quad/Graphics is very high at 17.1%. That means that out of the 26.02 million shares in the tradable float, 5.18 million shares are sold short by the bears. This is a high short interest on a stock with a relatively low tradable float. Any bullish earnings news could easily set off a monster short-squeeze for shares of QUAD post-earnings.

From a technical perspective, QUAD is currently trending above both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bullish. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last month, with shares moving higher from its low of $28.44 to its intraday high of $35.99 a share. During that uptrend, shares of QUAD have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action.

If you're bullish on QUAD, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above its 52-week high at $35.99 a share (or Tuesday's intraday high if higher) with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 149,155 shares. If that breakout hits, then QUAD will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $45 to $50 a share.

I would simply avoid QUAD or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops back below some near-term support levels at $34 to $33 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then QUAD will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major support areas at its 50-day moving average of $31.62 a share to $29 a share.

J2 Global

Another potential earnings short-squeeze trade idea is cloud services player J2 Global (JCOM), which is set to release its numbers on Tuesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect J2 Global to report revenue $130.43 million on earnings of 71cents per share.

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The current short interest as a percentage of the float for J2 Global is extremely high at 20.6%. That means that out of the 43.70 million shares in the tradable float, 9.01 million shares are sold short by the bears. If the bulls get the earnings news they're looking for, then shares of JCOM could easily explode higher post-earnings.

From a technical perspective, JCOM is currently trending above both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bullish. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last six months, with shares moving higher from its low of $38.07 to its recent high of $56.24 a share. During that uptrend, shares of JCOM have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of JCOM within range of triggering a major breakout trade post-earnings.

If you're in the bull camp on JCOM, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above its 52-week high at $56.42 a share (or Tuesday's intraday high if higher) on high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 292,457 shares. If that breakout hits, then JCOM 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 $75 a share.

I would simply avoid JCOM or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops below some key near-term support levels at $54 to $53 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then JCOM will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major support levels at its 50-day moving average of $51.75 a share to $48 a share.

Noodles

Another potential earnings short-squeeze candidate is quick-service restaurant player Noodles (NDLS), which is set to release numbers on Wednesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Noodles to report revenue of $91.01 million on earnings of 11 cents per share.

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The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Noodles is very high at 18.3%. That means that out of the 18.33 million shares in the tradable float, 3.01 million shares are sold short by the bears. The bears have also been increasing their bets from the last reporting period by 11.4%, or by about 307,000 shares. If the bears get caught pressing their bets into a bullish quarter, then shares of NDLS could experience a large short squeeze post-earnings as the bears rush to cover some of their bets.

From a technical perspective, NDLS is currently trending right below its 50-day moving average, which is bearish. This stock has been trending sideways for the last four months, with shares moving between $38.90 on the downside and $51.97 on the upside. If this stock can manage to take out the upper-end of its recent range post-earnings, then we could see a big breakout trade get triggered that would take NDLS outside of its massive range.

If you're bullish on NDLS, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $47.50 to $49.75 a share, and then once it takes out its all-time high at $51.97 a share with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 455,155 shares. If that breakout hits, then NDLS will set up to enter new all-time high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $60 to $70 a share.

I would avoid NDLS or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops back below some key near-term support levels at $41 to $38.90 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then NDLS will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major support level at $30 a share.

Goodrich Petroleum

Another earnings short-squeeze prospect is independent oil and natural gas player Goodrich Petroleum (GDP), which is set to release numbers on Monday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Goodrich Petroleum to report revenue of $58.67 million on a loss of 69 cents per share.

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The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Goodrich Petroleum is extremely high at 27.9%. That means that out of the 27.91 million shares in the tradable float, 7.66 million shares are sold short by the bears. The bears have also been increasing their bets from the last reporting period by 28.7%, or by about 1.70 million shares. If the bears get caught pressing their bets into a strong quarter, then shares of GDP could explode to the upside post-earnings as the bears rush to cover some of their short positions.

From a technical perspective, GDP is currently trending above its 200-day moving average and just below its 50-day moving average, which is neutral trendwise. This stock has been downtrending for the last month, with shares pushing lower from its high of $28.55 to its recent low of $22.14 a share. During that move, shares of GDP have been making mostly lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, shares of GDP have started to rebound off that $22.14 low, and it's starting to move within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade post-earnings.

If you're bullish on GDP, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above its 50-day moving average of $25.16 a share with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 1.80 million shares. If that breakout hits, then GDP will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $28.47 to its 52-week high at $28.55 a share. Any high-volume move above those levels could then easily send shares of GDP well north of $30 a share.

I would simply avoid GDP or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops back below some key near-term support levels at $22.14 to $20 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then GDP will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major support level at its 200-day moving average of $16.96 a share.

Myriad Genetics

My final earnings short-squeeze play is molecular diagnostic player Myriad Genetics (MYGN), which is set to release numbers on Tuesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Myriad Genetics to report revenue of $167.64 million on earnings of 46 cents per share.

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The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Myriad Genetics is extremely high at 31.8%. That means that out of the 80.20 million shares in the tradable float, 25.47 million shares are sold short by the bears. If this company can deliver the earnings news the bulls are looking for, then shares of MYGN could experience a decent short-squeeze post-earnings.

From a technical perspective, MYGN is currently trending below both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bearish. This stock has been downtrending for the last four months, with shares moving lower from its high of $32.05 to its recent low of $22.20 a share. During that downtrend, shares of MYGN have been consistently making lower highs and lower lows, which is bearish technical price action. That said, shares of MYGN have now started to rebound off that $22.20 low and enter a short-term uptrend. That move is quickly pushing shares of MYGN within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade post-earnings.

If you're in the bull camp on MYGN, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $26.16 to its 200-day moving average of $27.46 a share with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average volume of 2.14 million shares. If that breakout hits, then MYGN will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major overhead resistance levels at $29 to $32 a share. Any high-volume move above those levels will then give MYGN a chance to tag $35 a share.

I would avoid MYGN or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops back below some key near-term support levels at $23.83 to its 52-week low at $22.20 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then MYGN will set up to enter new 52-week-low territory, which is bearish technical price action. Some possible downside targets off that move are $19 to $18 a share.

To see more potential earnings short squeeze plays, check out the Earnings Short Squeeze Plays portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Delafield, Wis.

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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Roberto Pedone, based out of Delafield, Wis., is an independent trader who focuses on technical analysis for small- and large-cap stocks, options, futures, commodities and currencies. Roberto studied international business at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he spent a year overseas studying business in Lubeck, Germany. His work has appeared on financial outlets including CNBC.com and Forbes.com. You can follow Pedone on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zerosum24 or @zerosum24.