When the first-quarter earnings reporting season kicked off in the middle of last month, it looked at first like the overall solid results might provide a boost for the faltering markets. But the results were not enough to overcome concerns about rising interest rates and potential trade wars. The big U.S. indices had slipped by the end of the month.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the April 13 and April 30 settlement dates, those sellers were cautious, with short interest shrinking for the most part. That trend was led by Intel, with a double-digit percentage retreat. But the standout in this period was short sellers piling on Canadian medical device maker Neovasc, which looks like it might be imploding.
Note that still just two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The more than 215.07 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the final two weeks of last month was 2% or so less than on the previous settlement date, and it was the second lowest level of short interest in the past year. The latest reading totaled 16.0% of the available float. After six periods in a row of decreasing average daily volume, it rose in the latest period and the days to cover retreated to more than 13.
Sirius posted better-than-expected earnings and declared a dividend in the final two weeks of last month. The stock ended the short interest period trading more than 2% higher, though it has gained almost 7% since then. The Nasdaq fell fractionally between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.77 most recently. The 52-week low of $4.73 was reached last May, while the $6.78 multiyear high was seen on Wednesday.
By the end of April, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 179.44 million shares short. That was 13.2 million or so less than the total on the previous settlement date, which was the highest level of short interest in at least a year. The latest reading still represented 19.8% of the company’s float. The average daily volume increased handily, and the number of days it would take to cover all short positions shrank from almost four to about three.
Strength in its Computing and Graphics segment boosted AMD’s first-quarter results. Its shares ended the latest short interest period about 9% higher, though they had been up more than 13% at one point. The stock closed trading most recently at $11.95 a share, which is almost 9% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands at between $9.04 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.
Almost 76.32 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That figure was more than 11% lower than in the prior period, and it represented 1.6% of the chipmaker’s float. The latest reading was the fewest number of shares sold short in the past year. As of month’s end, it would take less than three days for investors to cover all their short positions.
Intel posted a record quarter due to strong performance from its data-centric businesses. Its April 13 closing share price was about the same as on the previous settlement date, despite being down more than 8% early in the period. Intel closed most recently at $54.34 a share, down from the multiyear high of $55.79 late last month. The 52-week low is $33.23. And the share price now is about 16% higher year to date.