As the markets reached all-time highs last month, many short sellers were in retreat, judging by the moves in the most heavily shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the April 15 and April 29 settlement dates. But the most shorted of those stocks, Sirius XM, bucked the trend with a sharp increase in the number of its shares short. Leading the downward trend were rival chip makers AMD and Intel.
Note that the three most shorted Nasdaq stocks still had more than 100 million shares short by the end of the period.
The 185.69 million or so Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the end of the month was more than 8% higher than on the previous settlement date and was the highest level of short interest in the past year. Some 10.4% of the company’s float was sold short. At the current average daily volume, it would take four days to cover all short positions. Sirius reported record revenues late in the month. The share price ended the two-week period with a less than 2% gain, though it has down more than 1% at one point. The stock ended Tuesday at $3.98 a share, within a 52-week trading range of $3.29 to $4.20.
For the fifth period in a row, the short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) has dropped, most recently by 9% or so to around 137.70 million shares. That was 11.8% of the telecom’s float, as of the most recent settlement date. The days to cover crept up to nine as the average daily volume slipped. Merrill Lynch still likes Frontier for its dividend. Shares ended the short interest period up less than 3%, while the Nasdaq retreated more than 3% in that time. The share price still is more than 16% higher year to date. The stock closed most recently at $5.43, within a 52-week range of $3.81 to $5.85.
MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at about 105.71 million shares most recently, was up less than 2% from the prior settlement date. That was the second fewest shares short in almost a year, but it was still 38.4% of the total float. The days to cover jumped from 15 to 32 as the daily average volume dropped sharply. MannKind recently regained marketing rights to Afrezza from Sanofi. The stock ended the two weeks more than 17% lower, and it has continued to retreat since. Shares are now more than 34% lower year to date to $0.95, still well up from the multiyear low of $0.64 earlier this year. The 52-week high of $7.32 was seen last summer.
By the end of April, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 91.08 million shares short, which was down from more than 106.85 million on the previous settlement date. The most recent reading totaled 14.1% of the company’s float. The days to cover dropped to two as the average daily volume surged to a 52-week high. Analysts have been of two minds on AMD since its recent earnings rally. Short sellers watched the share price jump more than 47% during the two weeks, reaching a new 52-week high of $3.99, before giving back 11% of that gain. The shares closed most recently at $3.64, well above the 52-week low of $1.61 from last summer.
About 78.80 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That was nearly 10 million less than at the start of the period, it totaled 1.7% of the company’s float and it was the lowest level of short interest since January. With the average daily volume up from a year-to-date low, it would take three days to cover all short positions. Intel is a stock that perhaps Warren Buffett should have never sold. The share price ended the two weeks less than 4% lower than on the previous settlement date, and it has pulled back a little more since then. The stock closed at $30.14 on Tuesday, down more than 12% year to date. The stock has changed hands between $24.87 and $35.59 per share in the past year.
Rounding out the top 10 were BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY), NVIDIA Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), Huntington Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ: HBAN) and Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). The trend toward shrinking short interest continued here, led by the more than 10% drop in the number of Micron shares short. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) did see a bump in its shares short, but not enough to lift it back into the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks.