The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

May 25, 2018 by Trey Thoelcke

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.

Sirius XM

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.

AMD

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.

Intel

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.

Neovasc

Short interest at Neovasc Inc. (NASDAQ: NVCN) totaled more than 72.93 million shares by the middle of this month, after pulling back less than 2% from a 52-week high on the prior settlement date. That still represented 4.2% of the total float, and it was the second greatest level of short interest in the past year. The days to cover remained less than one during the latest period as the average daily volume increased.

This Canadian cardiovascular device maker posted disappointing quarterly results during the period. Short sellers watched the stock rise about 34% (less than two cents a share) but then end those two weeks near 19% lower, though it has recovered since then by more than 45%. The most recent closing share price was $0.04, about a penny more than the 52-week low. Shares are more than 92% (less than 50 cents) lower year to date and so don’t appear to 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 increased more than 2% in the latest period, reclaiming a similar decline in the prior period. The more than 68.31 million shares on the most recent settlement date represented 1.5% of the total float. The year-to-date high was more than 86 million shares short back in January. Also note that the latest days to cover figure was still less than three even as the average daily volume shrank somewhat.

Rumors during the period had Comcast bidding against Disney for 21st Century Fox assets. Its share price ended the latest two-week period about 2% higher, but that gain essentially has been erased since that time. The stock closed most recently at $31.63 per share, which is down almost 23% since the beginning of the year. Its 52-week trading range is $30.43 to $44.00, and that low was seen earlier this month.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest rose about 2% from in the previous period to more than 67.37 million shares on the most recent settlement date. That was the greatest level of short interest so far this year, and it represented 20.7% of the total float. At the latest daily average trading volume, a year-to-date high, the days to cover figure was near 11.

For well more than a year, the CEO frequently has bought batches of Opko shares. The stock dropped more than 21% this past week and closed at $3.70 a share on Thursday. The 52-week trading range is $2.66 to $7.25. By the end of the two-week short-interest period, the share price was more than 54% higher, most of that gain coming in the wake of its latest earnings report. But the stock currently is more than 25% lower than at the beginning of the year.

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP), Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) and Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR). The stand out here was Micron, with a double-digit percentage rise in the number of its shares short. Short interest moves in the others were modest.

Lingering outside the spotlight of the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks again in the most recent period were TherapeuticsMD Inc. (NASDAQ: TXMD), Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX).

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