Early this month, the broader markets continued their retreats from all-time highs, and volatility seemed to be the name of the game, not only in stocks but the price of oil as well. Plus investors were waiting for the first-quarter earnings reporting season to begin. Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq, short sellers seemed comfortable overall. Moves in those shorted stocks were mostly positive between the March 31 and April 13 settlement dates.
AMD saw one of the most notable gains, while short interest in rival Intel shrank marginally. But it was BlackBerry that led the trend, with double-digit percentage growth in the number of shares short in those two weeks. However, it just missed making the top six.
Note that still 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 266.00 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by mid-April was more than 1% higher than on the previous settlement date. That was only the second period so far this year in which the number of shares short grew, and it was 17.2% of the total float. At the most recent average daily volume, it would take more than 13 days to cover all short positions.
JPMorgan downgraded Sirius, but that was after the short interest period. The stock ended the first two weeks of the month less than 1% lower, while the Nasdaq retreated almost 2% between the settlement dates. After hitting a 52-week high of $5.53 last month, the stock closed om Tuesday at $5.20 a share. The 52-week low of $3.74 was seen last summer.
After pulled back almost 8% in the previous period, the number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) rose around 2% to almost 257.30 million as of the most recent settlement date. That was 22.1% of the telecom’s float, as well as the 16th consecutive period with more than 200 million shares short. The daily average volume dropped sharply, and the days to cover jumped from around three to about seven.
Concerns about whether Frontier can maintain its dividend have held the stock back recently. The share price was down more than 9% by the middle of this month. The stock has fallen further since then, and it hit a 52-week low of $1.84 last week. The 52-week high of $5.70 was seen about a year ago. The shares closed most recently at $1.96 apiece.
By the middle of April, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 119.42 million shares short. That was a gain of more than 7% from the total on the previous settlement date, and it represented 14.4% of the company’s float. Note that short interest has grown in seven of the past nine periods. And it still would take less than two days to cover all short positions.
During the period, Goldman Sachs predicted the stock would underperform, and the April 13 share price was more than 15% lower than on the previous settlement date. The stock has reclaimed some of that ground since and closed at $13.49 on Tuesday, about 19% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands at between $3.18 and $15.55 in the past year.