In the final weeks of January, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit the 20,000 milestone for the first time, and Donald Trump was sworn in at the 45 president of the United States. Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq, those short sellers who remained active continued to be cautious. Overall, moves in those stocks were mixed and mild between the January 13 and January 31 settlement dates.
However, there were two notable exceptions. Short sellers seemed to find something to like in AMD, and they shied away from Micron Technology. Both saw double-digit percentage swings in the number of their shares short in the post recent period.
Note that only three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short by the end of January. In fact, two of them remain very far ahead of the pack.
The almost 255.67 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the end of January was almost 4% lower than on the previous settlement date, as well as the lowest level of short interest since October. Some 15.5% of the company’s float was sold short most recently. The days to cover rose from more than nine to more than 13 as the average daily trading volume dropped to a 52-week low.
Sirius shares hit a new high ahead of its latest earnings report. The stock ended the two-week period more than 2% higher, most of that gain coming in the final few days of the month. The Nasdaq was up less than 1% between the settlement dates. The stock is currently trading more than 5% higher year to date. It closed Thursday at $4.70 a share, in a 52-week range of $3.29 to $4.82.
After pulling back for three periods in a row, the number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) landed on more than 220.47 million as of the most recent settlement date. That was 19.0% of the telecom’s float, as well as the 11th consecutive period with more than 200 million shares short. The days to cover increased to more than 15 as the average daily volume fell off sharply.
There was speculation during the period about whether Frontier would raise its dividend. In the final two weeks of the month, short sellers watched the shares drop almost 3% but then recover enough to end the period more than 1% lower. The stock has retreated a bit more since then and closed most recently at $3.28. Shares have changed hands between $3.10 and $5.85 apiece in the past year.
MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at around 100.01 million shares on January 31, was around 2% higher than on the prior settlement date. That was the third time since last May that the number of shares short was more than 100 million, and it was 31.1% of the total float. The daily average volume rose from near 21 to about 29 during the period.
MannKind has been looking for ways to increase demand for its Afrezza. Shares ended the two weeks almost 3% higher, despite being down almost 7% at one point. The stock is still more than 18% lower since the beginning of the year to $0.52. The 52-week low, hit in November, is $0.41, and the 52-week high of $2.24 was seen last March.