Investors with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares sold short got spooked recently. The short interest in the company dropped 21% in the period that ended May 29, falling all the way to 61.2 million. The change may have been related to rumors of successful sales of Apple Watch or forecasts about product or services announcements at the recent Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
The total short position in Apple is 13th among all Nasdaq-traded stocks, just shy of Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) at 68.4 million shares. Some would argue that the Apple short position is only symbolic as far as sentiment about the company goes. It is only 1.1% of Apple’s total share float. However, investors do use short interest as a primary means to bet on the future. And Apple recently has done some major things on which it is worth gambling.
The WWDC was a disappointment as far as many shareholders were concerned. Wall Street traded Apple’s stock down after announcements about an Apple Music streaming service. The competitive market is already crowded. Anti-trust officials have started to examine Apple’s arrangement with music companies, and the product has barely reached market. Apple management also disclosed that about 100 million locations take the new Apple Pay product. That only leaves several billions of locations that could be added. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Apple’s share price has dropped 4% in the past five days. At least briefly, short sellers had an opportunity to make money.
However, the few days of downtrend in Apple’s share price have been the exception to the trend — although that could change.
Among the most probable enemies of Apple’s share price is Samsung, which has been its largest rival in the global smartphone sector for years.
According to comments made to Barron’s:
Jefferies’s & Co.’s Sundeep Bajikar today offers a mixed view for Apple, writing that the company’s sales of iPhone are turning out better-than-expected this quarter, but that at the same time, the device is losing momentum to rising interest in Samsung Electronics’s Galaxy S6.
The Galaxy lineup bested the iPhone’s as recently as two years ago.
Unlike that large amount of data on global smartphone sales, the fate of the Apple Watch, even in the near term, is difficult to guess. To sum up a millions of words of analysis, the smartwatch is either a toy in a segment of the market that will never grow, or it is a more compact version of the iPhone that soon will become the best-selling consumer electronics device in the world.
The short interest in Apple will be jumping around in the foreseeable future.