Healthy corporate earnings seemed to be enough to continue the eight-year old bull market in late April, with major indexes near all-time highs despite political and geopolitical uncertainties that had oil prices in retreat. Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq, short sellers seemed cautious. Moves in those shorted stocks were mixed and mostly mild between the April 13 and April 28 settlement dates.
The most notable pull back was in Sirius XM shares, which allowed it to slip from the top of the list. And Synergy Pharmaceuticals, still fairly new to the top six, held on to its spot with a notable bump in the number of its shares short in those two weeks.
Note that still only three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short, as of the end of last month. However, two of them remain very far ahead of the pack.
After rising around 2% in the previous period, the number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) pulled back marginally to more than 256.17 million as of the most recent settlement date. That was 22.0% of the telecom’s float, as well as the 17th consecutive period with more than 200 million shares short. The daily average volume dropped sharply again, and the days to cover rose from about seven to around nine.
Frontier finally announced the long-feared dividend cut, but not until after the latest settlement date. The share price was down around 3% by the end of last month. The stock has fallen further since then, and it hit a 52-week low of $1.40 on Tuesday. The 52-week high of $5.53 was seen about a year ago. The shares closed most recently at $1.43 apiece.
The almost 250.50 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the end of April was almost 6% lower than on the previous settlement date. Only in two periods so far this year have the number of shares short grown, and the most recent figure was 16.8% of the total float. As the average daily volume soared to a year-to-date high, the days to cover dropped from more than 13 to less than nine.
JPMorgan downgraded Sirius during the short interest period. The stock ended the final two weeks of the month nearly 3% lower, while the Nasdaq retreated around 4% between the settlement dates. After hitting a 52-week high of $5.53 in March, the stock closed this past Tuesday at $4.87 a share. The 52-week low of $3.74 was seen last summer.
By the end of April, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 120.91 million shares short. That was a gain of more than 1% from the total on the previous settlement date. It represented 14.6% of the company’s float and it was the highest level of short interest in at least a year. Also, it would take more than three days to cover all short positions.
Early last month, Goldman Sachs predicted the stock would underperform. While the April 28 share price was more than 8% higher than on the previous settlement date, it tumbled about 25% shortly thereafter. The stock closed at $10.18 on Tuesday, more than 10% lower year to date. Shares have changed hands at between $3.34 and $15.55 in the past year.