The return of volatility to the markets after the doldrums of August appears to have pointed short sellers at rival chipmakers Intel and AMD. These two stocks saw the largest upswings in short interest among the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the August 31 and September 15 settlement dates. The rest of the top six all saw more modest gains in the number of their shares short.
Note that still only two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short by the end of the most recent period. In fact, the top two remain far ahead of the pack.
The more than 229.41 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the middle of September was more than 3% higher than on the previous settlement date. That was also the fifth period in a row of short interest above 200 million. Some 13.5% of the company’s float was sold short most recently. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than four days to cover all short positions.
There has been some speculation that weak car sales could be a headwind for Sirius XM. Sirius shares ended the two-week period fractionally higher, largely rising and falling along with the Nasdaq in that time. The stock has retreated somewhat since but is still up more than 2% year to date. It closed most recently at $4.16, in a 52-week trading range of $3.29 to $4.44.
The number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) has increased in seven of the past eight periods. It rose most recently by over 5% to more than 224.60 million. That was 19.3% of the telecom’s float, as well as the highest short interest in at least a year. The days to cover dropped from about 14 to more than 10 as the average daily volume grew.
Telecoms such as Frontier are cheap compared to the S&P 500. Short sellers watched the shares sink more than 5% in the short interest period, while the Nasdaq was up fractionally. The stock is less than 2% higher in the past week to $4.36. Shares have changed hands between $3.81 and $5.85 in the past year.