Unusual Short Interest Trends In Key Stocks (AMZN, AAPL, DMND, FMCN, GMCR, GRPN, INTC, NFLX, RIMM)

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The mid-November NASDAQ short interest may have been lost in the Thanksgiving and Black Friday shuffle, but there were some very interesting and in some cases startling short interest factoids in the data.  Overall, the short interest for November 15 settlement date was 6,703,515,102 shares versus the reading of 6,718,917,154 shares as of the October 31, 2011 settlement date.

We tracked unusual short selling moves, gains and drops, in the following companies: Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN); Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL); Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND); Focus Media Holding Limited (NASDAQ: FMCN); Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR); Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN); Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC); Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX); and Research in Motion Limited (NASDAQ: RIMM).  We have added in the data and provided color if applicable.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) saw a drop in the short interest despite the building pressures we have been seeing around margins, Kindle margins, and valuations.  This short interest fell to 10,960,797 shares in mid-November versus 11,041,106 shares short at the end of October.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) saw another drop in the short interest to 9,440,115 shares short in mid-November versus 10,683,440 shares at the end of October.  This is actually the lowest short interest since mid-January.

Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) has been under increased fire for its deal delay after an accounting inquiry into payments to Walnut farmers and now due to the death of a board member that may have been integral in the situation.  The Short Interest for mid-November was up close to 10% to 12,128,071 shares, but take note: THIS WAS THE TENTH CONSECUTIVE RISE IN SHORT INTEREST!

Focus Media Holding Limited (NASDAQ: FMCN) was recently hit hard by the Murky Waters group who was short, but the increase looks big on the surface until you compare it to the past.  The short interest rose to 5.54 million shares short versus 4.27 million shares just two weeks earlier.  This was over 10 million as recently as August 31.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) remains under fire by short sellers as the mid-November short interest was 27,261,029 shares versus 24,748,979 shares at the end of October.  This was the highest reading since January 14.

Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) already had 2,919,091 shares in its short interest as its first-ever report in the short interest.  That is a highly shorted stock and it now has options.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) was recently added as a huge position by Warren Buffett, a very unusual play since Buffett has avoided tech in the past.  This was the third consecutive drop: 122.69 million shares versus 131.06 million shares.  Oddly enough, the short sellers had already made their bets without knowing a single thing about Warren Buffett’s involvement due to trade-dates versus when we knew about the position.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) saw a substantial drop in the short interest from late October to mid-November: 8,870,727 shares versus 9,285,174 shares, although trading volume was down lower so the days to cover was actually higher at 1.35 days versus 1.0 days.

Research in Motion Limited (NASDAQ: RIMM) saw a small drop in the short interest yet this remained the second highest in months and months.  The mid-November short interest was 44,658,200 shares versus 46,371,993 in late October.

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JON C. OGG