With the holiday shopping season looking strong and tax reform seeming all but certain earlier this month, how were short sellers positioning themselves for the end of the year? Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the November 30 and December 15 settlement dates they most stood pat, as short interest swings were mixed and minor overall.
Bucking that trend however was Cisco, which saw its second consecutive double-digit percentage increase in the number of its shares short earlier this month.
Note that still just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The more than 228.92 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the two weeks to December represented a gain of just 126,000 or so from the previous settlement date. The latest reading totaled 16.1% of the available float. Note though that the average daily volume surged in the period to the highest level since June, so the days to cover dropped from near 16 to more than nine.
Sirius XM channels recently became available on Apple TV. The stock ended the short interest period almost 2% lower than where it began it, despite being up nearly 5% at one point. The Nasdaq also rose less than 2% between the settlement dates. Sirius shares closed most recently at $5.39 apiece. That is less than the 52-week high of $5.89 seen near the end of July. The 52-week low of $4.40 was reached almost a year ago.
By the middle of December, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had about 176.54 million shares short. That was down marginally from the total on the previous settlement date, which was the greatest level of short interest in the past year. The latest reading represented 19.6% of the company’s float. The average daily volume increased during the two-week period, and as of the latest posting it would take about four days to cover all short positions.
Analysts expect stellar growth from AMD in 2018. Its December 15 share price was more than 5% lower than on the previous settlement date, though the shares have recovered somewhat since then. The stock closed trading on Wednesday at $10.53 a share, which is more than 21% lower than six months ago. Shares have changed hands at between $9.42 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.
More than 152.46 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. The figure grew by less than 5 million to the greatest level of short interest in at least the past year. That represented 3.3% of the company’s float. As of the middle of this month, it still would take more than five days for investors to cover all short positions.
Intel is a top pick for 2018 at JPMorgan. The stock ended the short interest period about where it began it, though it was down almost 4% at one point in the period. Intel closed most recently at $46.11 a share, which is down from a recent 52-week high of $47.64. The 52-week low is $33.23. The share price now is around 37% higher than six months ago.
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