The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

September 13, 2017 by Trey Thoelcke

Source: Wikimedia Commons
As summer began to wind to a close, short selling perked up, at least among the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq. The stock at the top of that list, Sirius XM, bucked the trend, but perhaps of more interest was that Apple crept back into the top 10 between the August 15 and August 31 settlement dates. This only a couple of weeks before the unveiling of the new iPhones.

In addition, Comcast saw the biggest upswing in the number of shares short among those featured here, and so it moved up the list. Also note that still just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the end of August.

Sirius XM

The almost 237.42 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the final two weeks of last month was around 14 million less than on the previous settlement date, as well as the smallest number of shares short so far this year. The latest reading represented 16.5% of the total float. As the average daily volume declined in the period, the days to cover rose from more than 13 to about 17.

Warren Buffett reportedly has trimmed his stake in Sirius. The stock ended the short interest period more than 2% higher than where it began it, though it was down around 2% at one point in the interval. The Nasdaq rose less than 2% by the settlement date. The shares closed most recently at $5.59 apiece. They hit a new 52-week high of $5.89 near the end of July, and the 52-week low of $4.05 was seen last fall.

AMD

By the end of August, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 149.04 million shares short. That was a rise of nearly 1% from the total on the previous settlement date, and it reclaimed much of the decline in the previous period. The most recent reading represented 16.9% of the company’s float. It would take more than three days to cover all short positions.

AMD has gotten more aggressive about taking on Intel. The August 31 share price was about the same as on the previous settlement date, though the shares had been down more than 7% at one point. The stock closed on Tuesday at $12.30, which is almost 14% lower than six months ago. Shares have changed hands between $5.66 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.

Intel

Almost 110.03 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the latest settlement date. Short interest grew around 9% during the period — for the second period in a row — to the greatest number of shares short in the past year. That represented 2.3% of the company’s float. As of the latest settlement date, it would take more than five days to cover all short positions.

Intel was a top tech stock pick at UBS during the period. Though its shares ended the short interest period less than 3% lower, they have regained that ground since then. The most recent close at $36.09 a share compares to a 52-week trading range of $33.23 and $38.45, and it is in the same ballpark as at the share price at the beginning of the year.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest increased around 2% from in the previous period to more than 77.81 million shares on the most recent settlement date. That was the second greatest number of shares short since the beginning of the year, as well as 23.3% of the total float. The daily average volume decreased during the two weeks, lifting the days to cover number from about 17 to a little more than 20.

For well more than a year, the CEO frequently has bought batches of Opko shares. The stock closed most recently at $6.26 a share, in a 52-week trading range of $5.85 to $12.15. During the two-week short-interest period, the share price increased about 5%, though it pulled back somewhat afterward. The share price now is about 21% lower than it was six months ago.

Synergy Pharmaceuticals

Short interest at Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP) totaled about 67.57 million shares on August 31, which was almost 7% higher than on the prior settlement date. It represented a whopping 30.1% of the total float and was the greatest number of shares short since April. The days to cover jumped from around 10 to more than 23 during the latest period as the average daily volume shrank.

This biopharmaceutical company is focused on treatments for constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Short sellers watched the stock rise more than 6% then give up about half that gain during those two weeks. The most recent closing share price was $2.84, which is more than 46% lower than six months ago. The shares have traded hands between $2.63 and $7.15 apiece in the past year.

Comcast

The number of Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) shares short totaled more than 66.56 million at the end of the month. That was a gain of more than 46% from two weeks earlier, and it was the greatest level of short interest since June. The most recent figure represented 1.4% of the total float. At the posted average daily trading volume, it would take about five days to cover all short positions.

Comcast is among the top dividend stock picks at Merrill Lynch. Short sellers watched its stock retreat more than 2% in the most recent period, and it has pulled back even further since then. Tuesday’s closing share price was $37.90, which is up more than 9% year to date. In the past year, the shares have traded between $30.02 and $42.18 apiece.

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Delcath Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: DCTH), Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The big movers here were Micron and Apple, with a double-digit percentage decline in the former and an even bigger gain in the latter, in the weeks leading up to the much anticipated launch of the new iPhones.

Tech giants Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) also saw sizable growth in their short interest, but not quite enough to lift them into the list of the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks by the settlement date. Others just beyond the spotlight of the top 10 included Oclaro Inc. (NASDAQ: OCLR) and Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX).