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The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks: Apple on the Rise

An almost 18% surge in Apple shares sold short between the August 31 and September 15 settlement dates was the most notable move in among the most heavily shorted stocks traded on the Nasdaq. Changes in short interest among the top six were otherwise mild, with Frontier Communications and Sirius XM holding on to the top spots.

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

After rising nearly 8% in the previous period, the short interest in Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) saw another 2% or so gain to almost 172.46 million shares, or 14.9% of the telecom’s float, by mid-September. That was the highest number of shares short in at least a year. The days to cover remained more than seven. Frontier was a Jefferies value pick recently, and shares ended the short interest period nearly 5% higher, compared to a 1% gain for the Nasdaq. The share price now is around 28% lower year to date. The stock closed Thursday at $4.83, within a 52-week trading range of $4.19 to $8.46.

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Reclaiming some of a 5% drop in the previous period, the number of Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) shares short grew about 2% to around 155.41 million early in the month. That was 7.1% of the total float and the third highest level so far this year. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than six days to cover all short positions. At least one analyst has started coverage on Sirius recently. The share price ended the two-week period around 1% higher, but it has given up that gain since. Shares ended Thursday at $3.78, in a 52-week trading range of $3.14 to $4.04.

By the middle of the month, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) had more than 131.36 million shares short, which was essentially the same as on the prior settlement date. The most recent reading totaled 20.8% of the company’s float. The days to cover rose to more than 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 where it began, though at one point it was up nearly 12%. The stock closed at $1.72 on Thursday, and the 52-week range is $1.61 to $3.72.

MannKind Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MNKD) short interest, at around 126.66 million shares as of September 15, was likewise about the same as on the prior settlement date. Note that was almost half, 48.6%, of the total float. The days to cover jumped from about 24 to more than 33. Peak short interest year to date was more than 131 million shares, back in May. One analyst downgraded the shares during the period. Short sellers watched the share price pull back more than 7% in early September. It is now down more than 33% year to date at $3.46. Shares have changed hands between $3.20 and $7.88 in the past year.

About 118.85 million Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were sold short as of the most recent settlement date. That was less than 1% fewer than at the start of the period, and it totaled 2.5% of the company’s float. The days to cover rose to almost four as the average daily volume retreated from a year-to-date high. Intel has fared relatively well since volatility increased in August, ending the two-week period more than 4% higher while the S&P 500 was flat. Since that time, the stock has dropped about 3% and closed most recently at $28.48. Shares have traded between $24.87 and $37.90 in the past year.

The number of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares short surged 17.7% in the period when more new products were launched. The more than 92.63 million shares short mid-month represents 1.6% of the float. Short interest has risen in three consecutive periods. The average daily volume dropped in the period, and it would take more than a day to cover all short positions. Apple was a favorite tech stock pick of JPMorgan recently. The share price increased more than 4% during the two weeks, though they pulled back a bit afterward. The stock price was $115.00 per share on Thursday’s close. It has traded in the past year between $92.00 and $134.54.

Rounding out the top 10 were BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) and Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). Of these, Microsoft was the standout, with a more than 10% short interest gain in the first two-weeks of the month. Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX) dropped out of the top 10.

By Trey Thoelcke