Short sellers continue to hold huge positions in the same handful of Nasdaq stocks, but among them, short interest in Sirius, the Nasdaq-traded stock with the largest short position, surged in the two weeks that ended May 30, the most recent settlement date. The number of shares short in the others among the top five changed more modestly in the period. They all had short positions of more than 94 million shares.
The number of Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short jumped by almost 110.80 million, or 56.2%, to around 307.85 million, which was 11.1% of the float. That was the greatest level of short interest since last July. It would take about five days to cover all short positions. There was speculation in the period over whether Liberty Media had entirely given up trying to acquire Sirius. The stock’s price was up around 4% in the two-week period but is now down less than 4% year-to-date. Shares closed at $3.35 on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $2.98 to $4.18.
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) had a 4.2% decline in short interest to 170.21 million shares during the period when it outlined its connected car strategy. That totaled 3.4% of the company’s float, and it was the lowest number of shares short in the past year. The days to cover was nearly seven. Short sellers watched the share prices rise about 5% in the two-week period. The stock closed at $28.24, in a 52-week range of $21.89 to $28.42, and is up more than 8% year-to-date.
Following its annual shareholders meeting, the short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) edged up 1.0% from the previous period to more than 162.39 million shares, or 16.3% of the telecom’s float. Note that the number of shares short in mid-May was the lowest in the past year. It would take about 14 days to cover all short positions. Shares slipped less than 3% in the two-week period to May 30 but now are up around 19% year-to-date. Shares closed at $5.61, in a 52-week range of $3.80 to $6.10.
Micron Technology Inc.’s (NASDAQ: MU) short interest shrank from around 113.32 million shares to 109.97 million by the end of May, at a time when shares were buoyed by news of long-term deals. That was still 10.3% of the company’s float. The average daily volume was the lowest in the past year, and the days to cover rose to more than five. Shares closed Tuesday at $29.51, in a 52-week range of $12.31 to $29.72, and posted a share price increase of more than 10% for the two-week short-interest period.
The number of Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) shares short rose by 1.8% in the period, but that was enough to lift it into the top five. The more than 94.88 million shares short at the end of May represents 14.8% of the float and the highest level of short interest so far this year. It would take about seven days to cover all short positions. The specialty retailer posted disappointing results in the two-week period, and the stock tumbled more than 13% by May 30. It closed at $11.13 Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $10.86 to $17.30.
Rounding out the top ten were Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD), BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY), Windstream Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: WIN), Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). Of these five, only Windstream saw an increase in short interest during the period.