By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, investors and traders likely would have been grateful for a break from the six weeks or so of volatility and sell-offs. By then, the major U.S. indexes were in the red for the year, and some sectors and many individual stocks remained in bearish territory. By the end of last month, many were likely ready to put the year in the rearview mirror and figure out how to position themselves for the coming year.
Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the November 15 and November 30 settlement dates, those sellers were looking for direction, as moves were mixed and mostly mild. Qualcomm stood out, though, with a double-digit percentage decline in its short interest.
Note that just three Nasdaq stocks had more than 100 million shares short as of the most recent settlement date.
The almost 214.84 million Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short after the final two weeks of last month were about 6% greater than on the previous settlement date, or 16.9% of the available float. The average daily volume increased marginally from in the prior period, but the days to cover remained at more than seven. Note that short interest was less than 200 million shares in seven of the past 10 periods.
Weakness in the second half seemed to signal a possible end to a decade of yearly growth. The stock ended the final two weeks of last month trading about 1% lower, though it had been down more than 7% earlier in the period. The Nasdaq rose by more than 3% between the settlement dates. Sirius stock closed at $6.26 on Tuesday, which is less than 2% lower than 90 days ago. 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 end of November, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had almost 118.18 million shares short. That was more than 2 million fewer than the total on the previous settlement date, and the second lowest level of short interest in the past year. The latest reading still represented 12.4% of the company’s float. And though the average daily volume retreated for the fifth straight time, the number of days it would take to cover all short positions remained a little more than one.
During the period, Jefferies saw AMD as a contrarian call. Short sellers watched the share price increase about 6% during in those two weeks, and even more to begin December. But the stock closed trading most recently at $19.98 a share, which is just 2% or so higher than three months ago. It also compares to September’s 52-week high of $34.14. Shares have changed hands at as low as $9.04 apiece in the past year.
The short interest in Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) ended three consecutive periods of decline. The number of shares short grew by almost 6 million most recently. The approximately 104.50 million shares posted for the latest settlement date represented 19.1% of the total float, and note that there have been more than 100 million shares short in six of the past seven periods. The days-to-cover figure jumped from over four to about eight as the average daily volume continued to shrink in those two weeks.
Caesars seemed to be catching the eye of some hedge funds in the third quarter. But its share price ended the initial two weeks of the month nearly 2% lower, despite being up almost 13% at one point. The stock ended Tuesday’s session at $7.17 per share, which is down around 9% over the past 90 days. Its 52-week trading range is $7.07 to $14.50, and that low was seen on Tuesday.
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