The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

August 10, 2018 by Trey Thoelcke

Source: Wikimedia Commons
After trading lower in early summer, the broader markets have managed modest gains lately and are again trading near all-time highs. Even the Nasdaq, which took a hit last month, is on the rebound, as overall the second-quarter earnings reporting season has been stronger than some had feared because of concerns of rising interest rates and inflation, as well tensions with foreign trading partners.

Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the July 13 and July 31 settlement dates, those sellers were looking for direction, as moves in their favorites were mixed and modest in that time.

Note that still just two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.

Sirius XM

The approximately 196.14 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short after the first two weeks of this month were about 1% less than on the previous settlement date, or 14.9% of the available float. It was also only the second time in at least a year that the short interest was less than 200 million. The average daily volume rose in the period, shrinking the days to cover from over 17 to less than 15.

Sirius has managed to outrun peak auto concerns, as shown by its latest earnings. The stock ended the short interest period trading more than 1% lower, though it had been up more than 2% at one point. The Nasdaq retreated about 2% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $7.00 on Thursday. The 52-week low of $5.17 was reached early this year, while the $7.70 multiyear high was seen back in June.

AMD

By the end of July, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 167.91 million shares short. That was 6.3 million or so more than the total on the previous settlement date, which was the lowest level of short interest since February. The latest reading still represented 18.1% of the company’s float. Here too, the average daily volume increased sharply, and the number of days it would take to cover all short positions fell from more than three to about two.

Some see AMD as a solid pick for investors for the rest of the year. Its shares ended the latest short interest period more than 11% higher, all of that gain coming after the quarterly report in late July. The stock closed trading most recently at $19.10 a share, which is about 36% higher since the end of May. Shares have changed hands at between $9.04 and $20.18 apiece in the past year.

Intel

More than 83.30 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 about the same as in the prior period. Note that, early in the year, short interest was above 100 million. As of the end of last month, it would take more than three days for investors to cover all their short positions, after the average daily volume rose from a year-to-date low.

An earnings beat during the period was not enough to please investors. The July 31 closing share price was more than 7% lower than on the previous settlement date, though it has recovered somewhat since then. Intel closed most recently at $50.14 a share, down from the multiyear high of $57.60 in June. The 52-week low is $34.38 per share. And the share price was last seen about 7% higher year to date.

Neovasc

Short interest at Neovasc Inc. (NASDAQ: NVCN) totaled more than 83.05 million shares by the end of the month, after pulling back more than 2% from the prior settlement date. That was the fourth period in a row in which the number of shares short dropped. The days to cover rose to a year-to-date high of more than six during the latest period as the average daily volume continued to shrink.

Nasdaq has begun the process of delisting this Canadian cardiovascular device maker. Short sellers watched the stock retreat about 13% (less than a penny per share) in those two weeks, though it bounced back afterward on published study results. 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.

Caesars Entertainment

Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CZR) short interest has increased for 12 straight periods, and the latest gain was more than 1.6 million shares. The almost 82.55 million shares on the month’s end settlement date represented 14.3% of the total float, and it was the greatest number of shares short in at least the past year. Also note that the latest days-to-cover figure is still about nine.

Merrill Lynch started coverage of the stock in July with a Buy rating. Its share price ended the most recent two-week short interest period down less than 2%, and it tumbled further this month after earnings were posted. The stock closed on Thursday at $9.90 per share, which is down more than 20% since the beginning of the year. Its 52-week trading range is $8.55 to $14.50, and that low was seen last week.

Opko Health

Opko Health Inc.’s (NASDAQ: OPK) short interest rose more than 5% from in the previous period to more than 77.26 million shares on the most recent settlement date. That was the greatest level of short interest in almost a year, and it represented 23.8% of the total float. The daily average trading volume jumped back near the year-to-date high, and the days to cover figure ticked down to about 10.

For well more than a year, the CEO frequently has bought batches of Opko shares. The stock retreated more than 5% this past week and closed at $5.50 a share on Thursday. 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 nearly 5% lower, though it had been down more than 19% at one point.

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT), Geron Corp. (NASDAQ: GERN) and TherapeuticsMD Inc. (NASDAQ: TXMD). Comcast was the standout here, with a notable drop in the number of its shares short in those two weeks.

Lingering outside the spotlight of the top 10 were Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP) and MiMedx Group Inc. (NASDAQ: MDXG).

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