The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks

February 12, 2019 by Trey Thoelcke

After a rough fourth quarter, with a particularly brutal December, things seemed to be looking up for stock investors in the new year, even with the bull market nearing 10 years old and economic numbers somewhat shaky. Judging by the most shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq between the January 15 and January 31 settlement dates, those sellers were focused on a few favorites, as other moves were mixed but more modest.

Among those stocks at the top of the list, Sirius XM and Caesars Entertainment, had double-digit percentage upswings during the final weeks of last month. Meanwhile, short sellers notably yielded on Zynga and Mattel.

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

Sirius XM
> Shares short:
More than 275.46 million
> Change from prior period: +10.8%
> Percentage of float: 23.5

This was the third straight period with an increase in Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares held short, and so this was again the highest level of short interest in the past year. The average daily volume picked up somewhat from the prior period, but the days to cover slipped from 10 to about nine.

We noted during the period that Sirius was among some bargain stocks with huge upside potential. Its stock climbed about 3% but then ended the final two weeks of last month down more than 2%. The Nasdaq climbed more than 4% between the settlement dates.

Sirius stock closed at $5.86 a share on Monday, which is about 4% higher than at the beginning of the year. The 52-week low of $5.48 was seen just before and again after Christmas, while the multiyear high of $7.70 was reached last summer.

Caesars Entertainment
> Shares short:
More than 129.08 million
> Change from prior period: +24.8%
> Percentage of float: 23.6

This most recent level of short interest in Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) lifted the stock one place on the list, and it was the greatest in at least a year. There have been more than 100 million shares short in nine of the past 11 periods. At the latest average daily volume, the days-to-cover figure remained a little more than four.

We recently identified Caesars as a “fallen angel” stock with huge upside potential. Its share price ended the latter two weeks of last month more than 4% higher, even though they had been down more than 2% earlier in the period. Since that time, shares have been climbed further.

The stock ended Monday’s session at $9.40 per share, which represents a gain of more than 36% from the start of this year. Its 52-week trading range is $5.84 to $13.54, and that low was seen during the Christmas Eve market sell-off.

AMD
> Shares short:
More than 119.77 million
> Change from prior period: −7.1%
> Percentage of float: 12.1

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) slips to number three on this list as it lost over  9.1 million shares short in the period. And though the average daily volume increased to its highest level since October, the number of days it would take to cover all short positions is still about one.

AMD’s fourth-quarter results were largely in line with expectations, but it was the guidance that excited investors. Short sellers watched the share price rise more than 19% during those two weeks, much of the gain coming after the earnings report.

The stock closed trading most recently at $22.96 a share, which is more than 22% higher year to date, as well as down from last September’s 52-week high of $34.14. Shares have changed hands at as low as $9.04 apiece in the past year.

TherapeuticsMD
> Shares short:
More than 70.50 million
> Change from prior period: +1.3%
> Percentage of float: 36.1

Most recently, the number of TherapeuticsMD Inc. (NASDAQ: TXMD) shares sold short reclaimed a similar decline in the first two weeks of the month. And the average daily volume pulled back, so it would take more than 30 days for investors to cover all their short positions as of the latest settlement date.

The success of the company’s new treatment for dyspareunia due to menopause helped to boost the share price through January. The stock ended the period with a gain of more than 3%, despite being down about that much early in those two weeks.

TherapeuticsMD stock closed most recently at $5.29 a share, after climbing more than 31% year to date. The shares have traded hands at between $3.51 (seen back in December) and $7.66 (last summer) apiece in the past 52 weeks.

Comcast
> Shares short:
More than 65.82 million
> Change from prior period: +2.0%
> Percentage of float: 1.5

Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) jumped up from seventh place to number five on the most shorted Nasdaq stocks list in the final two weeks of last month. The prior reading was the lowest since last October. The average daily volume rose sharply in the two-week period, but the number of days it would take for investors to cover all their short positions ticked down to less than three.

This Philadelphia-based media giant posted better-than-expected quarterly numbers during the short interest period. Between the latest settlement dates, the share price bounced from a gain of almost 4% to a loss of less than 3% and landed on an increase of over 2% by month’s end.

The stock closed most recently at $37.00 a share, which represents a year-to-date gain of almost 8%. The shares have traded hands at between $30.43 and $40.42 apiece in the past 52 weeks, and the high was put in about a year ago.

Novavax
> Shares short:
More than 63.77 million
> Change from prior period: +4.1%
> Percentage of float: 16.9

Like Comcast, Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) had risen a couple of spots on the list by the latest settlement date. The latest figure represented the greatest number of shares short in the past year. The average daily trading volume pulled back notably during the period, and the days to cover figure increased from more than five to over seven.

Last month, Novavax announced that results were available from a midstage clinical trial of its NanoFlu. By the latest short interest settlement date, the share price was about up about 11%, despite being almost 5% lower a couple of times in the two-week period.

After pulling back more than 5% last week, Novavax stock ended trading most recently at $2.20 a share, which falls within a 52-week range of $ 1.15 to $2.75. The share price currently is more than 12% higher than at the beginning of this year.

And Others

Rounding out the top 10 were Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA), Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) and Opko Health Inc. (NASDAQ: OPK). All four saw some decline in their short interest during the period, led by the toy and game stocks here.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) slipped out of the top 10 most shorted Nasdaq stocks this time. Lingering outside the spotlight of the top 10 along with it was JD.com Inc. (NASDAQ: JD). And note that the number of Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) shares sold short jumped, but not enough to lift it into the top 10. Also, short sellers yielded on Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) in a big way, allowing it to drop well out of our list. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) saw a notable decline in short interest as well.

I'm interested in the Newsletter