The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

May 10, 2018 by Trey Thoelcke

Source: Wikimedia Commons (bfishadow)
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.

Sirius XM

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.

AMD

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.

Intel

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.

Neovasc

Short interest at Neovasc Inc. (NASDAQ: NVCN) totaled about 74.02 million shares by the conclusion of last month, after jumping about 55% from on the prior settlement date. That represented a whopping 83.5% of the total float, and it was handily the greatest level of short interest in the past year. The days to cover remained less than one during the latest period even though the average daily volume decreased.

This Canadian cardiovascular device maker is scheduled to share its most recent quarterly results later this week. Short sellers watched the stock tumble more than 19% by the end of those two weeks, though it has mostly recovered since then. The most recent closing share price was $0.04, a penny more than the 52-week low. Shares are more than 92% lower year to date and so don’t have much further to sink. The stock has traded as high as $1.89 a share in the past year.

Comcast

Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) short interest pulled back more than 2% in the latest period, taking back a little of the 12% gain in the prior period. The more than 66.89 million shares on the most recent settlement date represented 1.5% of the total float. Also note that the days to cover figure was still less than three even though the average daily volume grew somewhat. The year-to-date high was more than 86 million shares short back in January.

Large-cap core fund managers have been aggressively buying sector leaders such as Comcast. Its share price ended the latest two-week period about 3% lower, and it has been relatively flat since them. The stock closed most recently at $30.73 per share. That is down around 25% since the beginning of the year. Its 52-week trading range is $30.43 (seen on Wednesday) to $44.00.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest decreased about 1% from in the previous period to more than 66.05 million shares on the most recent settlement date. That was the second greatest level of short interest so far this year, and it represented 20.3% of the total float. At the latest daily average trading volume, almost a year-to-date low, the days to cover figure was more than 20.

For well more than a year, the CEO frequently has bought batches of Opko shares. The stock popped about 29% on Wednesday and closed at $4.16 a share, in a 52-week trading range of $2.66 to $7.27. By the end of the two-week short-interest period, the share price was a more than 2% higher, although it was up more than 10% at one point. The stock still is down more than 16% since the beginning of the year.

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP), Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT), Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) and TherapeuticsMD Inc. (NASDAQ: TXMD). While the other three saw modest increases in the number of their shares short, TherapeuticsMD’s short interest shrank a bit.

Note that the short interest in Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) has more than doubled in the past three periods, though it has yet to rise into the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks. Meanwhile, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) slipped out of the top 10 with an almost 10% decline between the latest settlement dates.

Also lingered outside the spotlight of the top 10 are Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL), Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT).

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