The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

October 26, 2016 by Trey Thoelcke

Frontier Communications remained the most shorted stock traded on the Nasdaq between the September 30 and October 14 settlement dates. Overall, moves among the top few on the list were mixed but mild earlier this month. Intel saw virtually no change in the number of its shares short, while short sellers shied away from Sirius XM and Novavax somewhat.

Note that still only two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short by the end of the most recent period. In fact, those top two remain very far ahead of the pack.

Frontier Communications

The number of shares short in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) has increased in nine of the past 10 periods. It rose most recently by more than 3% to more than 235.62 million. That was 20.3% of the telecom’s float, as well as the highest short interest in at least a year. The days to cover inched up to more than nine as the average daily volume slipped.

Frontier is a Merrill Lynch top pick for its big upside potential. Short sellers watched the shares retreat more than 5% in the short interest period, while the Nasdaq was down almost 2%. The stock has recovered that loss since then and closed most recently at $4.11. Shares have changed hands between $3.81 and $5.85 in the past year.

Sirius XM

The more than 207.20 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short by the middle of October was more than 6% lower than on the previous settlement date. That was still the seventh period in a row of short interest above 200 million shares. Some 12.1% of the company’s float was sold short most recently. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than five 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 less than 2% lower, largely rising and falling along with the Nasdaq in that time. The stock has retreated somewhat since and is currently trading almost 5% higher than at the beginning of the year. It closed Tuesday at $4.19, in a 52-week trading range of $3.29 to $4.44.

MannKind

MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at more than 97.75 million shares most recently, was about 2% lower than on the prior settlement date. That ended four consecutive periods of a rising number of shares short and was 30.4% of the total float. The daily average volume decreased nearly in half during the period, and the days to cover to surged from near 24 to more than 40.

MannKind is one of the companies looking to develop an alternative to the EpiPen. Shares ended the two weeks nearly 19% lower, though they were up almost 3% at one point. The stock is now more than 63% lower year to date to $0.53. The recent 52-week low is $0.44, and the 52-week high of $3.79 was seen nearly a year ago.

AMD

By the middle of month, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 96.86 million shares short. That was up from around 93.71 million on the previous settlement date, as well as the highest level of short interest since April. The latest reading totaled 13.0% of the company’s float. The days to cover ticked up to about three from a year-to-date low of around one a month ago.

An announced collaboration with Alibaba boosted AMD shares during the period, but the ending share price was more than 2% lower than on the previous settlement date, though it was down 6% a one point. The stock reached a new 52-week high of $8.00 back in August, and shares closed at $7.49 on Tuesday. The 52-week low is $1.75.

Intel

More than 75.69 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That was essentially flat for the second period in a row, and it totaled 1.6% of the company’s float. Note that the short interest hit a year-to-date low in mid-August. As of the middle of October, it would take more than four days to cover all short positions.

Intel is expected to fare well if the dollar weakens, and its share price ended the two weeks down less than 1% from on the previous settlement date. It is less than 2% higher year to date, and the stock closed at $35.10 on Tuesday. Shares have changed hands between $27.68 and $38.36 per share in the past 52 weeks.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest of more than 74.33 million shares, as of the most recent settlement date, was up almost 4% from the previous period. That was 22.2% of the total float. The daily average volume shrank marginally during the two weeks, and by the end of the month, the days to cover had risen from near 21 to about 22.

The CEO frequently has been buying batches of Opko shares for well more than a year. The stock closed most recently at $9.40, in a 52-week range of $7.12 to $11.85. The share price ended the two-week short-interest period more than 10% lower, and it has a little more since that time.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), NVIDIA Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY) and Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). Micron stood out here for its more than 13% plunge in the number of shares short during the settlement period. BlackBerry’s short interest gained enough to lift it into the top 10 this month.

Tech giants Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) also saw modest gains in short interest, but not enough to make it into the top 10. Also lingering outside the top 10 are JD.com Inc. (NASDAQ: JD) and Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO).