The broader markets have eked out modest gains since the first of June, with the Nasdaq trading near all-time highs. This despite increasing fears of the effects of trade wars and rising interest rates. In the first two weeks of July, investors were also bracing for the start of the second-quarter earnings reporting season.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the June 29 and July 13 settlement dates, those sellers were cautious, as their favorites saw shrinking or flat short interest in that time. There were a few big movers near the bottom of the top 10 list, however.
Note that still just two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The more than 198.20 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short after the first two weeks of this month was about 8% less than on the previous settlement date, or 15.2% of the available float. It was also the first time in at least a year that the short interest was less than 200 million. The average daily volume dropped sharply from near a year-to-date high, lifting the days to cover from more than eight to over 17.
One analyst was particularly bullish on Sirius during the period. The stock ended the short interest period trading about 5% higher, though it pulled back a bit afterward. The Nasdaq also climbed about 5% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.98 on Tuesday. The 52-week low of $5.17 was reached early this year, while the $7.70 multiyear high was seen last month.
By the middle of July, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had around 161.54 million shares short. That was 2.7 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 17.8% of the company’s float. Here too the average daily volume decreased sharply, but the number of days it would take to cover all short positions ticked up to less than four.
AMD made some management changes during the short interest period. Its shares ended the latest short interest period more than 8% higher, though they were up about 12% at one point. The stock closed trading most recently at $16.19 a share, which is more than 45% higher since the end of May. Shares have changed hands at between $9.04 and $17.34 apiece in the past year.
Short interest at Neovasc Inc. (NASDAQ: NVCN) totaled more than 84.97 million shares by mid-month, after pulling back less than 4% from the prior settlement date. That was the third period in a row in which the number of shares short dropped. The days to cover jumped to more than five during the latest period as the average daily volume shrank sharply.
Nasdaq has begun the process of delisting this Canadian cardiovascular device maker. Short sellers watched the stock retreat about 12% (about a penny per share) in those two weeks, and it has crept down further since then. The most recent closing share price was just above the 52-week low of $0.03. Shares are around 94% (about 57 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.