March came in like a lamb, as far as the markets were concerned. With the major markets retreating from all-time highs, it began to look like the Trump rally was spent. Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq, short sellers overall seemed fairly enthusiastic about that. Moves in those shorted stocks were mostly positive between the February 28 and March 15 settlement dates.
That was most notable with Frontier Communications, which saw a double-digit percentage gain in the number of its shares sold short. Bucking the trend were Sirius XM and Opko Health, though the declines in their short interest were very modest.
Note that only three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the middle of this month. However, two of them remain very far ahead of the pack.
The more than 277.25 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by mid-March was barely lower than on the previous settlement date. That was still the second greatest number of shares short so far this year, as well as 18.0% of the float. At the most recent average daily volume, it would take less than 11 days to cover all short positions.
Note that Warren Buffett indirectly owns Sirius shares. The stock ended the two-week period more than 4% higher, though it was up almost 7% at one point. The Nasdaq rose less than 2% between the settlement dates. The stock is currently trading more than 14% higher year to date. It closed Friday at $5.10 a share, in a 52-week trading range of $3.74 to $5.53.
After rising more modestly in the previous two periods, the number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) jumped about 15% more to almost 273.44 million as of the most recent settlement date. That was 23.6% of the telecom’s float, as well as the 14th consecutive period with more than 200 million shares short. The daily average volume rose sharply and the days to cover dropped from more than six to around five.
Frontier lost perhaps its biggest bull during the period. The share price was down more than 17% by the middle of the month. The stock has continued to fall since then and hit a 52-week low of $1.92 on Friday. Shares closed most recently at $2.09. The 52-week high of $5.77 was seen almost a year ago.
By the middle of March, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had around 114.91 million shares short. That was a gain of nearly 10% from the total on the previous settlement date, and it was 13.9% of the company’s float. Note that short interest has grown in six of the past seven periods. It still would take less than two days to cover all short positions.
AMD landed a new street-high price target during the period, but the March 15 share price was more than 3% lower than on the previous settlement date, though it was down nearly 10% at one point in the period. The stock closed at $13.70 on Friday, still almost 21% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands between $2.60 and $15.55 in the past year.