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When considering stocks, it's always helpful to gauge what the rest of the market thinks. One source for that is the number of shares shorted. Companies seeing significant increases in shares shorted are being viewed more negatively, and vice-versa.

We ran a screen on the basic materials sector for stocks seeing the most significant decreases in shares shorted month-over-month. This indicates that short sellers are less bearish on these names than they were before.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

Do you think these stocks will outperform too? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

1. Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE:ACI): Engages in the production and sale of steam and metallurgical coal from surface and underground mines located throughout the United States. As of December 31, 2010, it operated or contracted out the operation of 23 active mines; and owned or controlled approximately four. Market cap at $1.55B, most recent closing price at $7.28. Shares shorted have decreased from 38.06M to 33.58M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 2.12% of the company's float of 211.00M shares. Days to cover ratio at 2.37 days.

2. Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ANR): Engages in the production, processing, and sale of coal in the United States. Market cap at $2.18B, most recent closing price at $9.90. Shares shorted have decreased from 40.96M to 38.77M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 1.% of the company's float of 218.15M shares. Days to cover ratio at 1.9 days.

3. Allied Nevada Gold Corp. (NYSEMKT:ANV): Engages in the evaluation, acquisition, exploration, and advancement of gold exploration and development projects in the state of Nevada. Market cap at $2.48B, most recent closing price at $27.65. Shares shorted have decreased from 6.89M to 6.11M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 1.02% of the company's float of 76.56M shares. Days to cover ratio at 7.09 days.

4. Basic Energy Services, Inc. (NYSE:BAS): Provides a range of well site services to oil and gas drilling and producing companies in the United States. Market cap at $502.86M, most recent closing price at $11.95. Shares shorted have decreased from 6.32M to 5.91M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 1.1% of the company's float of 37.21M shares. Days to cover ratio at 5.78 days.

5. Flotek Industries Inc. (NYSE:FTK): Provides oilfield services and equipment to the energy and mining industries in the U. Market cap at $619.93M, most recent closing price at $12.59. Shares shorted have decreased from 7.13M to 6.46M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 1.65% of the company's float of 40.71M shares. Days to cover ratio at 12.86 days.

6. Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:GDP): Engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas properties. Market cap at $344.61M, most recent closing price at $9.47. Shares shorted have decreased from 7.84M to 7.27M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 2.19% of the company's float of 26.06M shares. Days to cover ratio at 6.72 days.

7. Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:HNR): Engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, production, and disposition of oil and natural gas properties. Market cap at $387.5M, most recent closing price at $9.83. Shares shorted have decreased from 5.88M to 5.49M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 1.53% of the company's float of 25.53M shares. Days to cover ratio at 16.43 days.

8. Kronos Worldwide Inc. (NYSE:KRO): Engages in the production and marketing of titanium dioxide pigments in North America and Europe. Market cap at $2.29B, most recent closing price at $19.77. Shares shorted have decreased from 6.94M to 6.22M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 3.61% of the company's float of 19.95M shares. Days to cover ratio at 9.14 days.

9. Quicksilver Resources Inc. (NYSE:KWK): Engages in the exploration, development, and production of unconventional natural gas onshore in North America. Market cap at $485.99M, most recent closing price at $2.81. Shares shorted have decreased from 29.58M to 28.56M over the last month, a decrease which represents about 1.1% of the company's float of 92.63M shares. Days to cover ratio at 10.41 days.

*Short data sourced from Yahoo! Finance, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: Short Sellers Think These 9 Basic Materials Stocks Have Upside