September started off with back-to-back major hurricanes slamming into the United States, but the markets continued to trade at all-time highs throughout the month. Judging by most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the September 15 and September 29 settlement dates, short sellers overall were cautious. That is, the short interest moves among these stocks were mixed and mostly modest.
The stand out was toy and game maker Mattel, which rose into the top six on a wave of rising short interest going back to the summer, well before the announced bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us. Also, short sellers shied away from a couple of biotech stocks, but not enough for them to slip out of the top 10.
Note that still just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the end of last month.
The more than 232.83 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the latter two weeks of last month was more than 9 million less than on the previous settlement date, and it was the smallest number of shares short so far this year. The latest reading represented 16.2% of the total float. The average daily volume shrank to a year-to-date low as well, so the days to cover increased from near 12 to more than 17.
During the period, at least one analyst saw upside potential in Sirius. The stock ended the short interest period barely higher than where it began it, though they gained more than 3% afterward. The Nasdaq rose fractionally between the settlement dates. Sirius shares closed most recently at $5.65 apiece. That is still down from the 52-week high of $5.89 seen near the end of July. The 52-week low of $4.05 was reached last fall.
At the end of September, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 160.53 million shares short. That was a rise of less than 2% from the total on the previous settlement date, but it was the highest level of short interest in at least a year. The most recent reading represented 18.2% of the company’s float. It still would take a little more than two days to cover all short positions.
During the period, one analyst saw big upside potential in AMD. The September 29 share price was less than 2% higher than on the previous settlement date, though the shares were up more than 9% at one point in the interval. The stock closed on Tuesday at $13.70, which is more than 4% higher than six months ago. Shares have changed hands between $6.22 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.
More than 116.01 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the latest settlement date. Short interest decreased nearly 2% during the period, ending three consecutive periods of rising numbers of shares short. But it was still the second highest level of short interest in the past year, and it represented 1.9% of the company’s float. As of the latest settlement date, it would take about five days to cover all short positions.
This semiconductor giant remains an old-school tech favorite on Wall Street. Though its shares ended the short interest period with nearly a 3% gain, they have added that much and more again since then. The most recent close at $39.65 a share compares to a 52-week trading range of $33.23 and $39.95. Furthermore, the share price is more than 9% higher than at the beginning of the year.