The 5 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks: Short Sellers Remain Cautious

When it came to the most heavily shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq, short sellers appeared to be remain cautious, as the moves among the top five were modest between the January 29 and February 12 settlement dates even as share prices were particularly volatile.

Perhaps most notable was that short sellers continue to give up on Apple, allowing the iPhone maker to drop out of the top 10, replaced by biotech company with rising short interest.

Note that the four most shorted Nasdaq stocks still had more than 130,000 shares short by the end of the period.

After little movement in the previous period, the short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) rose nearly 3% to almost 178.68 million shares by the most recent settlement date. That was 15.4% of the telecom’s float. The days to cover remained less than 10 though the average daily volume hit a year-to-date high. Frontier’s customer base will double after acquiring assets from Verizon. Shares ended the short interest period down almost 7%, while the Nasdaq pulled back more than 5% in that time. The share price still is up more than 17% year to date. The stock closed most recently at $5.30, within a 52-week trading range of $3.81 to $8.21.

The more than 139.76 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short at the end of January was less than 2% lower than on the previous settlement date. Still, that was the lowest level of short interest since last spring, and it was 6.8% of the company’s float. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than three days to cover all short positions. Analysts were cautious about Sirius after its most recent earnings. The share price ended the two-week period more than 8% lower, though it was down about 13% at one point. The stock ended Wednesday at $3.60 a share, in a 52-week range of $3.29 to $4.20.

By the middle of the month, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had around 132.34 million shares short, which was down from 129.60 million two weeks earlier. The most recent reading totaled 20.5% of the company’s float. The days to cover rose to more than 13 as the average daily volume dropped sharply. Forecasts for PC shipments remain soft. Short sellers watched the share price tumble more than 16% in the two-week period, though it has recovered about 12% since. The shares closed most recently at $2.02, within a 52-week range of $1.61 to $3.23.

MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at more than 130.25 million shares as of February 12, was up more than 4% from the prior settlement date to the greatest number of shares short since last May. The most recent reading was 47.4% of the total float, and the days to cover jumped to more than 30 as the average daily volume slumped to a year-to-date low. MannKind will soon have full control of Afrezza again. While the stock ended the two weeks essentially flat, it both rose about 11% and dropped as low as nearly 20% during the period. Shares are now down more than 24% year to date to $1.00. They hit a multiyear low of $0.64 last month. The 52-week high of $7.32 was seen last summer.

A less than 440,000 share pullback in the BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY) short interest brought it to more than 79.58 million, in the wake of 3% retreat in the final weeks of January. The most recent reading was 15.1% of the total float, and it would take more than 15 days to cover all short positions, a year-to-date high. BlackBerry’s operating system share continues to shrink, and short sellers watched the stock rise about 5% but end the two weeks down more than 6%. Shares closed Wednesday at $7.34, down about 22% since the beginning of the year. The 52-week trading range is $5.96 to $11.45.

Rounding out the top 10 were Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) and Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). As mentioned, the number of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares dropped sharply, nearly 10%, and it slipped out of the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks. Novavax was new to the list in this period, riding a more than 14% surge in short interest since the beginning of the month.