As the time of “sell in May and go away” arrived, it seems the short sellers were neither strongly for nor against the notion, as least as far as the most heavily shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq are concerned. Between the April 29 and May 13 settlement dates, short interest moves among these stocks were mixed and all by single-digit percentages.
Among these top five stocks, short sellers favored top-seeded Sirius XM the most, and shied away from biopharma stock MannKind the greatest. But again, the moves were relatively modest.
Note that only two of the most shorted Nasdaq stocks still had more than 100 million shares short by the end of the most recent period.
The more than 195.09 Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the middle of this month was more than 5% higher than on the previous settlement date and was again the highest level of short interest in the past year. Some 10.9% of the company’s float was sold short. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than seven days to cover all short positions.
Analysts had mixed reactions to the first-quarter report from Sirius. Its share price ended the two-week period less than 2% lower, though it has up less than 1% at one point. The stock ended Tuesday at $3.96 a share, within a 52-week trading range of $3.29 to $4.20.
After five periods in a row of shrinking short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR), it rebounded by a scant 1% or so to more than 138.25 million shares. That was 11.9% of the telecom’s float, as of the most recent settlement date. The days to cover slipped to less than seven as the average daily volume increased.
Merrill Lynch still likes Frontier for its dividend. Shares ended the short interest period down more than 3%, while the Nasdaq retreated more than 1% in that time. The share price now still is more than 9% higher year to date. The stock closed most recently at $5.10, within a 52-week range of $3.81 to $5.85.
MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at about 97.22 million shares most recently, was down about 8% from the prior settlement date. That was the fewest shares short in at least a year, but it was still 35.3% of the total float. The days to cover dropped from 32 to more than 15 as the daily average volume jumped sharply.
MannKind posted a deeper-than-expected first-quarter net loss in the period. Despite a more than 9% gain early on, the stock ended the two weeks more than 30% lower, though it has recovered a little since. Shares are now more than 33% lower year to date to $0.97, still well up from the multiyear low of $0.64 earlier this year. The 52-week high of $7.32 was seen last summer.