When the first-quarter earnings reporting season kicked off back in April, it looked at first like the overall solid results might provide a boost for the faltering markets, but as the month wore on, the big U.S. indices dithered somewhat. Ultimately, though, it seems the results were enough to help offset such concerns rising interest rates and potential trade wars. The broad markets are up at least 3% so far in May.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the April 30 and May 15 settlement dates, those sellers were looking for direction, as short interest moves were mixed and mild. The two stocks at the top of the list saw dwindling numbers of shares short, but Intel led the short interest gainers.
Note that still just two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The more than 206.46 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short after the initial two weeks of this month was 1% or so less than on the previous settlement date. It was the second lowest level of short interest in the past year, and it totaled 15.8% of the available float. The average daily volume has shrunk in six of the past eight periods, but it rose in the latest period, reducing the days to cover to about 12.
Sirius posted better-than-expected earnings and declared a dividend late last month. The stock ended the short interest period trading almost 3% higher, though it has been looking for direction since then. The Nasdaq increased more than 4% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.92 most recently. The 52-week low of $5.06 was reached last May, while the $7.08 multiyear high was seen this week.
By the middle of May, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had around 173.67 million shares short. That was 15.7 million or so less than the total on the previous settlement date, and it was the lowest level of short interest since February. The latest reading still represented 19.2% of the company’s float. The average daily volume decreased handily, and the number of days it would take to cover all short positions rose from about three to nearly four.
While some expect 2018 to be a breakout year for AMD, options traders seemed to have other ideas early this month. Its shares did end the latest short interest period about 15% higher, and they have gained another 8% or so since then. The stock closed trading most recently at $13.41 a share, which is more than 21% higher year to date. Shares have changed hands at between $9.04 and $15.65 apiece in the past year.
Almost 81.09 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That figure was more than 6% higher than in the prior period, and it represented 1.7% of the chipmaker’s float. The latest reading was the second smallest number of shares sold short in the past year. As of mid-month, it would take more than three days for investors to cover all their short positions.
Intel has been among the best-performing Dow Jones industrials so far this year. Its May 15 closing share price was about 4% higher than on the previous settlement date, though it had been up more than 6% at one point in the period. Intel closed most recently at $54.75 a share, down from the multiyear high of $55.79. The 52-week low is $33.23. And the share price now is about 17% higher year to date.