The 5 Most Heavily Shorted Nasdaq Stocks: Who Bucked the Trend?

Trey Thoelcke

Short sellers shied away from four of the top five most shorted stocks on the Nasdaq between the June 30 and July 15 settlement dates. The outlier was Frontier Communications, which saw a small rise in the number of shares short in the first two weeks of the month. But all five still had short positions of more than 100 million shares at the end of the period.

The number of Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short fell by about 20.60 million to around 297.60 million, which was 10.7% of the float. That ended a three-period run of rising short interest. It would take more than seven days to cover all short positions. The board of directors approved an additional $2 billion to repurchase Sirius shares. The stock’s price was down more than 2% in the two-week period but are less than 2% lower year-to-date. Shares closed at $3.45 on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $2.98 to $4.18.

In the period when it announced a text messages to landlines service, the short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) rose fractionally from the previous period to around 173.12 million shares, or 17.4% of the telecom’s float. Note that the short interest has been increasing since mid-May. But with the dwindling daily average volume, it now would take more than 30 days to cover all short positions. Shares declined less than 2% in the two-week period to July 15 but now are up more than 26% year-to-date. Shares closed at $5.93, in a 52-week range of $4.09 to $6.10.

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Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) saw a 7.3% drop in short interest to 161.62 million shares during the period when it said more share buybacks will be coming. That totaled 3.2% of the company’s float, and it was the smallest number of shares short in at least a year. The days to cover remained more than five. Short sellers watched the share price rise less than 3% in the two-week period. Shares ended Thursday at $34.25, in a 52-week range of $21.89 to $34.83, and up about 33% year-to-date.

Micron Technology Inc.’s (NASDAQ: MU) short interest, at around 121.75 million shares in the middle of July, was about the same as in the previous period. That is, 11.4% of the company’s float. The stock was one of the S&P 500’s top gainers in the second quarter. The days to cover is more than four. Shares closed Thursday at $33.88, in a 52-week range of $12.31 to $34.85, and posted a share price increase of more than 3% for the two-week short-interest period.

The number of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares short declined by 7.6% in the period. The more than 103.68 million shares short at mid-July represents 1.7% of the float and the lowest level of short interest since March. It would take more than two days to cover all short positions. While Apple teamed up with IBM during the period, the share price rose less than 3% in those two weeks. It closed at $95.04 Thursday, in a 52-week range of $59.75 to $96.80.

Rounding out the top 10 were Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD), BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY), Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). Note Groupon saw a nearly 10% gain in short interest during the period, enough to lift it into the top 10.

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