Volatility roared back into the markets in early February, bringing with it the long overdue 10% correction. Sell-offs can be good for short sellers, depending on how they are positioned and how nimble they are. While it looks like they stuck with many of the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the January 31 and February 15 settlement dates, there were a few notable moves.
Short sellers got out of the way of Comcast and Synergy Pharmaceuticals during the initial weeks of this month, and Cisco managed to drop out of the top 10 list. Otherwise, moves in the most shorted Nasdaq stocks were pretty mild overall.
Note that still just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The approximately 215.84 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the first two weeks of this month was barely any fewer than on the previous settlement date. The latest reading totaled 15.2% of the available float and was the lowest level of short interest in the past 52 weeks. Though the average daily volume retreated a bit in the period, the days to cover remained about nine.
At least one analyst saw Sirius XM shares as a bargain during the correction. The stock ended the short interest period about where it began it, despite being down more than 6% during the sell-off. The Nasdaq pulled back about 2% between the settlement dates. Like the broader markets, Sirius has inched higher in the past week, and it reached a multiyear high of $6.38 on Tuesday. The 52-week low of $4.73 was seen last May.
By the middle of February, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had about 165.38 million shares short. That was less than a million more than the total on the previous settlement date, and it was still the second lowest level of short interest since October. The latest reading represented 18.4% of the company’s float. The average daily volume increased in that time, but the number of days it would take to cover all short positions remained less than three.
Expectations were high during the short interest period for AMD’s budget gaming chip. Its February 15 closing share price was about 10% lower than on the previous settlement date, though it has recovered more than 7% since then. The stock closed trading on Tuesday at $12.53 a share, which still is about 14% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands at between $9.70 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.
More than 103.76 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. The figure shrank by about 1% in the period to the smallest reading since last August. It represented 2.2% of the company’s float as well. As of the middle of this month, it would take around three days for investors to cover all their short positions.
Intel was one of the stocks hit hard in the panic selling earlier this month. Yet the shares ended the short interest period only about 4% lower, after being down around 12% at one point during those two weeks. Intel closed most recently at $49.91 a share, after hitting a 52-week high of $50.90 earlier in the day. The 52-week low is $33.23. And the share price now is less than 7% higher year to date.