The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks: Intel and AMD Buck the Trend

July 27, 2016 by Trey Thoelcke

Smartphone Intel
Source: courtesy of Intel Corp.
As the Brexit fears faded and the markets headed for new all-time highs, short sellers remained focused on their favorite stocks traded on the Nasdaq. Between the June 30 and July 15 settlement dates, the short interest swings among them were mostly mild and mostly upward.

Note that among those at the top of the list, Sirius XM bucked the mostly mild trend with a double-digit percentage gain in the number of its shares sold short in the two weeks. And rivals AMD and Intel bucked the mostly upward trend with modest declines in the numbers of their shares held short.

Also 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.

Sirius XM

The nearly 228.65 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the middle of this month was more than 17% higher than on the previous settlement date. That was the highest level of short interest in the past year. Some 12.8% of the company’s float was sold short most recently. At the current average daily volume, it would take about four days to cover all short positions.

Sirius XM just reported strong second-quarter revenue and subscriber growth. The stock reached a 52-week high of $4.41 a share on Tuesday. The 52-week low is $3.29. Its share price ended the short interest period more than 5% higher, while the Nasdaq was up less than 4% in that time.

Frontier Communications

The number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) has been on the rise since April, most recently up by more than 1% to more than 166.07 million. That was 14.3% of the telecom’s float, as of the most recent settlement date. The days to cover rose to around 12 as the average daily volume dwindled.

Frontier remains a top pick at Merrill Lynch. Shares ended the most recent short interest period more than 4% higher, although they were down more than 1% at one point. The share price now is more than 10% higher year to date and closed most recently at $5.15, within a 52-week range of $3.81 to $5.85.

MannKind

MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at around 86.15 million shares most recently, was barely any higher than on the prior settlement date, but it followed a 5% gain in the previous period. It was also 26.8% of the total float. The days to cover doubled to more than 32, as the daily average volume shrank to a year-to-date low. Note that the year-to-date peak short interest was more than 130 million shares back in February.

MannKind plans to relaunch Afrezza in the current quarter. Short sellers watched shares sink about 13% in the initial two weeks of the month, and the retreat has continued since. Shares are now more than 31% lower year to date to $0.99, though still up from the multiyear low of $0.64 earlier this year. The 52-week high of $4.98 was seen nearly a year ago.

Intel

About 71.99 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That was more than a million less than at the start of the period, and it totaled 1.5% of the company’s float. It was the fourth period in a row of shrinking short interest. It would take about three days to cover all short positions.

Intel also was a top tech pick at Merrill Lynch, and the share price ended the two weeks about 7% higher than on the previous settlement date. It did retreat somewhat afterward. The stock closed at $35.09 on Tuesday. Shares have changed hands between $24.87 and $35.93 apiece in the past year.

AMD

By the middle of July, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 71.44 million shares short, which was down from around 76.39 million on the previous settlement date. The most recent reading totaled 11.1% of the company’s float, and it was the lowest short interest so far this year. The days to cover rose to more than three as the average daily volume shrank from a year-to-date high.

During the period, at least one analyst though AMD may have run too far. Still, the ending share price was about the same as on the previous settlement date. However, the stock did jump more than 28% following last week’s earnings report, reaching a new 52-week high of $7.16 on Tuesday. The 52-week low is $1.62.

Micron Technology

Micron Technology Inc.’s (NASDAQ: MU) short interest, at around 69.38 million shares as of mid-July, was more than 4% higher than in the previous period. It was also 6.7% of the total float, as well as the second highest level of short interest so far this year. As the daily average volume retreated from a year-to-date high, the days to cover increased to more than two again.

Micron reported disappointing quarterly earnings early in July. Shares closed Tuesday at $14.67, in a 52-week range of $9.31 to $20.57, and the stock saw a share price decline of less than 5% for the two-week short-interest period. It has jumped again since the settlement date, thanks to buyout rumors.

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And So On

Rounding out the top 10 were Opko Health Inc. (NASDAQ: OPK), Huntington Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ: HBAN), Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) and Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR). The two biotech companies saw declines in short interest, while the others had gains, though all four were modest swings.

Among those lingering outside the top 10 are BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) and Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO). Note that short sellers continue to shy away from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), which saw another double-digit drop in shares short in the latest reported period.