While volatility has roared back into the markets in February, bringing with the first 10% correction in ages, everything looked sunny and bright back in January. Sell-offs can be good for short sellers, depending on how they are positioned. But it looks like they shied away from many of the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the January 12 and January 31 settlement dates.
The short sellers of Cisco, Comcast and Mattel may have had the right idea, in that they piled on these stocks during the latter weeks of last month. Otherwise, the short interest in the most shorted Nasdaq stocks dwindled during the period.
Note that still just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The more than 216.10 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the final two weeks of last month represented a decline of more than 15 million from the previous settlement date. The latest reading totaled 15.2% of the available float. Though the average daily volume retreated in the period, the days to cover remained less than nine.
At least one analyst has boosted its target price on Sirius XM recently. The stock ended the short interest period more than 11% higher than where it began it. The Nasdaq saw about a 1% gain between the settlement dates. Like the broader markets, Sirius has retreated some in the past week. Its shares closed most recently at $5.82 apiece. That is less than the 52-week high of $6.28 seen last month. The 52-week low of $4.69 was reached about a year ago.
By the end of January, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 164.59 million shares short. That was down more than 6% from the total on the previous settlement date, and it was the lowest level of short interest since October. The latest reading represented 18.3% of the company’s float. The average daily volume shrank in that time, but the number of days it would take to cover all short positions remained less than three.
AMD posted strong quarterly results at the end of the short interest period. Its January 31 closing share price was more than 14% higher than on the previous settlement date, though it has retreated more than that since then. The stock closed trading on Friday at $11.31 a share, which is still about 3% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands at between $9.70 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.
More than 104.76 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. The figure shrank by more than 1% in the period to the smallest reading since last August. The most recent figure represented 2.2% of the company’s float. As of the end of last month, it still would take about more than two days for investors to cover all short positions.
Analysts were generally pleased with Intel’s most recent quarterly results. Yet the stock ended the short interest period more than 6% lower, though it was down more than 8% at one point during those two weeks. Intel closed most recently at $43.95 a share, which is down from a 52-week high of $50.85 at the end of January. The 52-week low is $33.23. The share price now is more than 6% lower year to date.