NEW YORK (
Sirius XM Radio
saw the biggest changes in short interest in the first half of May among stocks traded on the
Nasdaq Stock Market
, according to a published report.
Sirius short interest jumped over 30% to more than 209 million shares, making it the most heavily shorted stock on the Nasdaq, ahead of
Level 3 Communications
reported. Level 3 short interest fell slightly during the period, to about 102 million from just over 107 million April 30.
Short sellers borrow shares in the hope of buying them at a lower price in the future and pocketing the difference. The Nasdaq reports short interest twice a month, about two weeks after the period in which the shorting activity took place.
Since reaching the $1 mark in February, Sirius shares have been unable to hold their gains. The satellite radio provider's shares hit a high of $1.25 on May 3, the day they affirmed they expected to add 500,000 subscribers in 2010. A day later they surprised analysts by reporting a surprise profit of a penny, but missed analysts' revenue expectations. The shares have traded off sharply with the rest of the market since the May 6 flash crash.
E*Trade shares hit their 52-week high of $2.08 in September and have been stuck in a range of about $1.40 to $1.70 for several months. Analysts cited strong April trading numbers for E*Trade in reports last week, and some expressed optimism that the company's exposure to troubled home loans will show surprising signs of improvement. The shares were at $1.50 Wednesday afternoon, up more than 5% on a bullish day for stocks.
Aside from Sirius XM and E*Trade, other Nasdaq stocks that saw a heavy rise in short interest were
. YRC, a shipping company based in Overland Park, Kan., was the fifth-most-shorted Nasdaq stock in the first half of May, behind Sirius, Level 3,
The top decrease in short interest on the Nasdaq was seen in
, Puerto Rico's largest bank. It has seen its shares rise 50% in the last three months as it has benefited from being among the healthiest institutions in a stressed Puerto Rican banking sector.
Written by Dan Freed in New York