The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

July 25, 2018 by Trey Thoelcke

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.

Sirius XM

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.

AMD

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.

Neovasc

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.

Intel

More than 83.31 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That represented 1.8% of the chipmaker’s float and was approximately 4% lower than in the prior period, and it ended four consecutive periods of rising short interest. As of the middle of this month, it would take more than four days for investors to cover all their short positions, after the average daily volume shrank to a year-to-date low.

Intel remains a top pick at Merrill Lynch for its dividend and upside potential. The July 13 closing share price was more than 6% higher than on the previous settlement date, though it pulled back a bit afterward. Intel closed most recently at $52.18 a share, down from the recent multiyear high of $57.60. The 52-week low is $34.38 per share. And the share price was last seen more than 16% higher year to date.

Caesars Entertainment

Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CZR) short interest has increased for 11 straight periods, though the latest gain was less than 400,000 shares. The more than 80.91 million shares on the mid-month settlement date represented 14.0% of the total float, and it was the greatest number of shares short in the past year. Also note that the latest days-to-cover figure jumped to a year-to-date high of more than nine.

The stock was trading near its 52-week low in early July. Yet, its share price ended the most recent two-week short interest period more than 7% higher, and it has continued to climb since then. The stock closed on Tuesday at $11.70 per share, which is down about 6% since the beginning of the year. Its 52-week trading range is $10.25 to $14.50, and, as mentioned, that low was seen early this month.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest barely rose from in the previous period to more than 73.36 million shares on the most recent settlement date. That was the greatest level of short interest so far this year, and it represented 22.5% of the total float. The daily average trading volume pulled back from a year-to-date high, and the days to cover figure grew to more than 10.

For well more than a year, the CEO frequently has bought batches of Opko shares. The stock retreated more than 8% this past week and closed at $5.58 a share on Tuesday. The 52-week trading range is $2.66 to $7.24. By the end of the two-week short-interest period, the share price was more than 24% higher. But the stock currently is more than 13% lower year over year.

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA), TherapeuticsMD Inc. (NASDAQ: TXMD), Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) and Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. (NASDAQ: HMNY). While Mattel saw a sizable drop in the number of its shares short, short sellers piled into Comcast and Helios and Matheson, resulting in double-digit percentage gains and lifting the parent of MoviePass into the 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks.

Lingering outside the spotlight of the top 10 were Geron Corp. (NASDAQ: GERN), Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) and Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP). Note that short interest in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) increased markedly, but it remains well outside the top 10 list.