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The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks: New King of the Mountain

Between the August 14 and August 31 settlement dates, Sirius XM was dethroned as the most heavily shorted stock traded on the Nasdaq. The new king of the mountain is Frontier Communications, which saw the biggest bump in the number of shares short among the top five. At the same time, short sellers appeared to lose interest in BlackBerry in particular.

Note that the five most shorted Nasdaq stocks all had more than 110,000 shares short by the end of the month.

After dropping for the three periods in a row, the short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) increased nearly 8% to more than 168.53 million shares, or 14.5% of the telecom’s float, by the end of August. That was the second highest number of shares short in at least a year. The days to cover grew to more than seven. The dividend seemed safe after the most recent earnings, and shares ended the short interest period more than 7% lower, compared to a 5% decline for the Nasdaq. The share price is more than 17% lower year to date. The stock closed Thursday at $5.51, within a 52-week trading range of $4.19 to $8.46.

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After rising more than 4% in the previous period, the number of Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short retreated about 5% to around 152.50 million late last month. That was 6.9% of the total float and the first sizable pullback since May. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than five days to cover all short positions. During the period, Sirius increased its share buyback plan. The share price ended the two-week period less than 3% lower, but it has climbed more than 2% since. Shares ended Thursday at $3.86, in a 52-week trading range of $3.14 to $4.04.

By the end of the month, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 131.38 million shares short, which was down more than 4% from the prior settlement date. The most recent reading totaled 20.8% of the company’s float. The days to cover rose to almost 12 as the average daily volume continued to cool from the highs of early summer. At least one analyst still sees big upside potential in AMD shares. The share price ended the two weeks about 1% lower than where it began, though at one point it was down more than 9%. The stock closed at $1.84 on Thursday, and its 52-week range is $1.61 to $4.11.

MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at around 126.70 million shares as of August 31, was up about 4% from the previous period. Note that was almost half, 48.7%, of the total float. The days to cover rose from more than 21 to about 24. Peak short interest year to date was more than 131 million shares, back in May. Mannkind’s inhaled insulin drug Afrezza moved out of clinical development and into the commercial market recently. The share price decreased more than 13% in late August. It is now down about 28% or so to $3.75, as of Thursday’s close. Shares have changed hands between $3.25 and $7.88 in the past year.

After a drop of around 17% in the previous two periods, short interest in Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) grew about 2% to about 119.65 million shares short in the latest period. That totaled 2.5% of the company’s float. The days to cover fell to less than three as the average daily volume reached a year-to-date high. Intel has been somewhat immune to recent volatility, ending the two-week period just 2% lower, while the S&P 500 was down more than 5%. The stock is now more than 19% lower year to date and closed most recently at $29.27. Shares have traded between $24.87 and $37.90 in the past year.

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For the first time since June, fewer than 100,000 BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY) shares were short, following a more than 10% plunge in the period to almost 92.15 million shares. That was still 17.6% of the total float, and it would take more than 12 days to cover all short positions. The days to cover in the previous period was 21, on a year-to-date low average daily volume. BlackBerry continues to lose market share, and short sellers watched the stock fall more than 10% but mostly recover during the two weeks. Shares closed Thursday at $7.38, in a 52-week range of $6.41 to $12.63.

Rounding out the top 10 were Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX). Of these, Apple and Microsoft saw double-digit percentage jumps in their shares short, while short sellers retreated from Groupon.

By Trey Thoelcke