August is often a period of summer doldrums in the stock markets. Yet this year, those investors, traders, analysts and others who haven’t gone away on holiday have seen the markets reclaiming all-time highs (in a record bull run), an earnings season that was stronger than many expected, and an economy that is strong despite budding trade wars and rising rates and inflation.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the July 31 and August 15 settlement dates, those sellers were focused on just one favorite. While all others at the top of the list saw shrinking short interest, in Caesars Entertainment it grew by nearly 20%.
Note that still just two Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The nearly 192.89 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short after the first two weeks of this month were less than 2% fewer than on the previous settlement date, or 14.6% of the available float. It was also only the third time in at least a year that the short interest was less than 200 million. The average daily volume rose a little in the period, and the days to cover remained at more than 14.
Sirius remains a holding at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. The stock ended the short interest period trading more than 1% lower, though it has risen marginally since then. The Nasdaq was up about 1% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.96 on Friday. The 52-week low of $5.17 was reached early this year, while the $7.70 multiyear high was seen back in June.
By the middle of August, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 146.32 million shares short. That was nearly 13% less than the total on the previous settlement date, and it was the lowest level of short interest in the past year. The latest reading still represented 15.8% of the company’s float. Here, the average daily volume dropped sharply, and the number of days it would take to cover all short positions remained at about two.
Like Sirius, AMD was a short seller favorite pulling back from a recent 52-week high. Its shares ended the latest short interest period more than 4% higher, though they had been up more than 7% at one point in the period. The stock closed trading most recently at $23.98 a share, which is more than 66% higher since the end of May and two cents shy of the 52-week high hit earlier in the day. Shares have changed hands as low as $9.04 apiece in the past year.
Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CZR) rose a couple of notches on the list as its short interest increased for the 13th straight period, and the latest gain was more than 16.4 million shares. The more than 98.96 million shares on the mid-month settlement date represented 17.2% of the total float, and it was the greatest number of shares short in at least a year. The days-to-cover figure dropped from about nine to less than four as the average daily volume surged to a year-to-date high.
Caesars and other gaming stocks are still expected to benefit from the recent Supreme Court ruling on sports betting. Its share price ended the most recent two-week short interest period almost 17% lower, with most of that decline coming after earnings were posted early in the month. The stock closed most recently at $10.35 per share, which is down almost 17% since the beginning of the year. Its 52-week trading range is $8.55 to $14.50, and that low was seen at the beginning of this month.