The arrival of September means that summer vacation time is over and it’s time to turn attention to the race to the end of the year. This year that includes not only the holiday shopping season but the midterm elections in the United States. Meanwhile, the trade war with China ramps up and interest rates and inflation rise, yet the stock market keeps trading near all-time highs (in a record bull run).
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the August 31 and September 14 settlement dates, those sellers were cautious overall. The short interest moves were mixed but modest — except for Qualcomm, which leaped into the top six as short sellers piled on.
Note that now four Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short, as of the most recent settlement date.
The more than 192.69 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short after the first two weeks of this month were less than 2% lower than on the previous settlement date, or 14.6% of the available float. It was only the fifth time in at least a year that the short interest was less than 200 million. The average daily volume recovered from a year-to-date low in the period, and the days to cover fell from more than 17 to near 13.
Merrill Lynch sees big potential upside in Sirius shares. The stock ended the short interest period trading only a bit higher, but it has fallen off sharply since then. The Nasdaq pulled back more than 1% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.27 on Tuesday, after retreating about 11% in the past 90 days. 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 September, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 151.90 million shares short. That was up more than 3% from the total on the previous settlement date, which was the second lowest level of short interest in the past year. The latest reading still represented 16.3% of the company’s float. And the average daily volume surged to a 52-week high, so the number of days it would take to cover all short positions shrank to less than one.
AMD has seen a handful of price target hikes recently. Its shares ended the latest short interest period more than 30% higher, though they leveled off afterward. The stock closed trading most recently at $32.57 a share, which is more than 115% higher than three months ago, but down from a recent 52-week high of $34.14. Shares have changed hands as low as $9.04 apiece in the past year.
More than 136.8 million Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That represented 9.3% of the chipmaker’s float and was a gain of more than 357% from in the prior period. That was by far the highest number of shares short in the past year. As of the middle of this month, it would take almost nine days for investors to cover all their short positions at the posted average daily volume.
Barclays initiated coverage on Qualcomm with an Overweight rating during those two weeks. The September 14 closing share price was about 10% higher than on the previous settlement date, though it has pulled back somewhat since then. The stock was last seen trading at $72.74 a share, down from the 52-week high of $76.50 last week. The 52-week low is $48.56 per share. And the share price is around 5% higher than it was 90 days ago.
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