The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks: Intel Slips Down the List

August 10, 2016 by Trey Thoelcke

Smartphone Intel
Source: courtesy of Intel Corp.
In most years, the end of July marks the beginning of the summer doldrums, but this year the markets are hitting new all-time highs. However, short sellers didn’t make any big moves between the July 15 and July 29 settlement dates, at least when it comes to the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq.

While the swings were largely mixed but mild in the final two weeks of last month, short interest in Intel did droop enough that the stock slipped from the top six, though not enough for it to drop out of the top 10 altogether. One has to look beyond the top 10 to find any double-digit percentage gains in the number of shares held short.

Note that still only two of the most shorted Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short by the end of the most recent period.

Sirius XM

The more than 229.03 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the end of July was only marginally higher than on the previous settlement date. It was still the highest level of short interest in at least a year. Some 13.4% 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 reported late in the month that it topped 25 million subscribers. Its share price ended the two-week period more than 5% higher, hitting a new multiyear high of $4.44 at the end of July. The Nasdaq was up less than 3% in that time. The stock closed at $4.19 a share on Tuesday. Its 52-week low is $3.29.

Frontier Communications

The number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) had been increasing since April, but most recently it shrank by about 3% to more than 161.06 million. That was 13.9% of the telecom’s float, as of the most recent settlement date. The days to cover inched up to more than 12 as the average daily volume continued to dwindle.

Frontier remains a top stock pick at Merrill Lynch. Shares ended the short interest period fractionally higher, although they were down almost 3% at one point. The share price now is more than 7% lower year to date and closed most recently at $4.95, within a 52-week range of $3.81 to $5.85.

MannKind

MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at more than 83.29 million shares most recently, was more than 3% lower than on the prior settlement date, as well as the second smallest number of shares short so far this year. Yet it was 25.9% of the total float. The daily average volume shrank to a new year-to-date low, sending the days to cover up to more than 46, a year-to-date high.

MannKind has relaunched Afrezza inhalable insulin. Short sellers watched shares sink about 2% in the final two weeks of the month, though it recovered afterward. Shares are now nearly 79% lower year to date to $0.92, still up from the multiyear low of $0.64 earlier this year. The 52-week high of $4.46 was seen nearly a year ago.

AMD

By the end of July, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 75.37 million shares short. That was down from more than 71.44 million on the previous settlement date, which was the lowest short interest so far this year. The most recent reading totaled 11.6% of the company’s float, and the days to cover dropped to less than two as the average daily volume rose to a year-to-date high.

During the period, AMD’s earnings raised expectations for a turnaround. The ending share price was more than 33% higher than on the previous settlement date. The stock reached a new 52-week high of $7.16 during the period, but shares closed at $6.60 on Tuesday. The 52-week low is $1.65.

Micron Technology

The number of Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) shares short, at more than 71.33 million shares as of the end of the month, was almost 3% higher than in the previous period. And it was 6.9% of the total float, as well as the highest level of short interest so far this year. Though the daily average volume decreased somewhat, the days to cover remained above two.

Buyout rumors swirled around Micron in late July. The stock saw a share price jump of almost 12%, before settling at a less than 5% gain, for the two-week short-interest period. It has increased more than 5% since then. Shares closed on Tuesday at $14.48, in a 52-week range of $9.31 to $19.30.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest, at around 68.46 million shares as of the end of the month, was about the same as in the previous period. That was 21.0% of the total float. The daily average volume declined during the final weeks of the month, and the days to cover grew from 26 to 31.

The CEO continues to frequently buy batches of shares, as he has done for more than a year. The stock closed Tuesday at $10.14, in a 52-week range of $7.12 to $13.76. The share price stayed essentially flat across the two-week short-interest period, though it has risen almost 2% since.

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And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Huntington Bancshares Inc. (NASDAQ: HBAN), Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) and Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR). There was little movement here either, aside from the nearly 8% decline in Intel shares short. Still lingering outside the top 10 are Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY) and Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN).

The most notable short interest gainers during the period were Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), which each saw the number of shares short rise between 12% and 15%. However, both remain well outside the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks.