A Look Behind Cisco’s Huge Short Interest Boom

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Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is again one of the top 10 most shorted stocks on the Nasdaq. It was reported that a total of 56.97 million shares were short in the most recent period, compared to 45.77 million in the previous period. Cisco saw one of the biggest jumps in short interest this period, an increase of approximately 24% or about 11.2 million shares.

Although Cisco has performed more or less in line with the U.S. broad markets in 2017, most of this growth has taken place in the past month. At the same time, shares have pushed close to multiyear highs not rivaled since 2007.

While Cisco reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat or matched most estimates, revenue was down year over year for the seventh consecutive quarter. Despite the decline, Cisco has beaten earnings and sales estimates for every quarter since CEO Chuck Robbins took over from John Chambers two years ago, and most think he has the tech giant headed in the right direction.

Merrill Lynch took a middle of the road view on Cisco following its most recent report in August, but the firm does still see shares growing ahead:

We rate Cisco a Neutral based on our belief that its revenues will decelerate through 2018 driven by market share declines and market growth deceleration. We also believe margins are near their peak and see capital returns slowing over the next 12-18 months. On the positive side, Cisco has a roughly 3.7% dividend yield and provides stable growth for investors, limiting downside.

Shares of Cisco closed Tuesday at $33.76, with a consensus analyst price target of $35.73 and a 52-week trading range of $29.12 to $34.60.