Earnings season is set to get into full gear and these are the top twenty-five S&P 500 stocks with the largest change in $ short interest. While the change in short interest of certain stocks like Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) are primarily momentum and value based, other changes in short interest may be an increase of short exposure in anticipation of weaker than expected earnings. The S3 Black App Screener Tool allows you to sort for changes in short interest prior to earnings announcements.
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) shares are down 3.1% in afternoon trading today as Andrew Left of Citron Research issued a short-sale recommendation on the company with a $300/share target price. In addition to Left’s recommendation, Eddy Cue, Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) services head, stated that Apple would not be interested in an acquisition of either Netflix or Walt Disney Co. (DIS), but would rather create its own video content. Finally, the Financial Times published an article today questioning Netflix’s $331.44 historical high it hit last Friday which translates to “a dozen times the $12 billion of revenues reported last year, 120 times the profits it expected.”
We tracked $951 billion of short interest in the U.S./Canadian region and the top ten most and least profitable short trades for the month of February were:
Most Profitable Shorts
(in $ millions)
Ticker Sector Feb. Avg.
Wal-Mart Stores WMT Hypermarkets $3,620 +$665.4 +18.38% Tesla Inc TSLA Auto Manufacturer $9,984 +$599.9 +6.01% CVS Corp CVS Drug Retail $3,020 +$545.3 +18.05% Comcast Corp CMCSA Cable & Satellite $2,868 +$488.7 +17.04% Advanced Micro Dev AMD Semiconductors $1,996 +$460.6 +23.07% Chevron Corp CVX Integrated Oil & Gas $2,613 +$451.4 +17.28% Exxon Mobile Corp XOM Integrated Oil & Gas $2,751 +$433.3 +15.75% Alphabet Inc A GOOGL Internet Software & Svcs $3,972 +$409.2 +10.30% MiMedx Group Inc MDXG Biotechnology $512 +$371.9 +72.59% Akorn Inc AKRX Pharmaceuticals $741 +$366.0 +49.39%
- WMT After a rally which lasted for all of 2107 and stretched into January 2018, Wal-Mart’s stock price has been declining since it reported quarterly earnings which missed on profits, beat on sales and disclosed 2018 guidance below expectations.
- TSLA After hitting $357.42 in late February, Tesla’s stock price began to tumble as it nears its 200,000th vehicle delivery which will mark the eventual phase out of the U.S. Government’s $7,500 tax credit.
- CVS CVS shares trended lower when the DOJ asked for more details on the CVS-Aetna merger. Even their strong quarterly results, which beat on earnings and sales, couldn’t reverse its 14% price drop in February.
- CMCSA Comcast’s share price took a hit when they disclosed a potential rival bid for Fox’s media assets, Disney has a $52 billion offer on the table, which would have to be topped.
- AMD After posting solid quarterly earnings, analysts fear that its crypto-mining based growth may be short lived and tenuous due to increased competition.
- CVX Chevron quarterly results met revenue expectations, but missed badly on earnings after backing out the effect of $2 billion of tax benefits.
- XOM Exxon Mobil reported lower than expected quarterly earnings due to a drop in demand for its refining business.
- GOOGL Alphabet had strong quarterly revenues, but earnings underperformed FactSet estimates by $0.28/share even though overall revenues increased by 24%.
- MDXG MiMedx is delaying the release of its 4th quarter and 2017 full year earnings until it concludes an internal accounting audit. Later In the month reports arose that the DOJ was investigating the company’s sales and distribution practice, specifically regarding government contracts.
- AKRX Shares plunged after its acquirer, Freenius SE, announced that it was conducting an investigation into Akorn’s product development policies in relation to FDA date integrity procedures.
Least Profitable Shorts
(in $ millions)
Ticker Sector Feb. Avg.
Snap Inc A SNAP Application Software $1,763 -$557.3 -31.62% GrubHub Inc GRUB Internet Software & Svcs $1,327 -$410.4 -30.93% Netflix Inc NFLX Internet Retail $5,859 -$386.6 -6.60% Twitter Inc TWTR Internet Software & Svcs $1,212 -$256.2 -21.14% Apple Inc AAPL Technology & Hardware $7,568 -$229.5 -3.03% Ebay Inc EBAY Internet Software & Svcs $1,333 -$224.0 -16.80% Lumentum Holdings LITE Communication Equip. $726 -$187.0 -25.77% Amazon.Com Inc AMZN Internet Retail $7,518 -$185.6 -2.47% Micron Technology MU Semiconductors $2,618 -$180.5 -6.90% Qorvo Inc QRVO Semiconductors $744 -$177.4 -23.84%
- SNAP Snapchat stock soared over 20% as its quarterly results handily beat expectations on both revenues and Daily Active User growth.
- GRUB Yum! Brand (YUM) announced a delivery partnership with GrubHub, extending GRUB’s reach across the country. YUM purchased $200 million of GRUB stock to formalize the agreement.
- NFLX Netflix signed Ryan Murphy, creator of American Horror Story, to a five year deal. NFLX is slowly inching towards the $300/share level which is increasing buying demand from momentum traders.
- TWTR Twitter reported its first profitable quarter, beating on both revenues and earnings but disappointing slightly on Monthly Active User growth.
- AAPL Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) increased its Apple stake in the 4th quarter 2017 to 169.6 million shares or $29.7 billion.
- EBAY Reported strong quarterly results and decided to end its payment processing relationship with PayPal and replacing it with Dutch firm Adyen. EBAY is looking to not only to reduce its payment processing costs but also control more of its operational footprint.
- LITE Reported strong quarterly earnings including an increase in overall sales, specifically in its 3D-sensing product line.
- AMZN Amazon began cost cutting measures with over 100 layoffs in its corporate workforce. Amazon is also looking to expand its retail footprint in the medical supply sector, an extension of its possible foray into the retail drug sector. The firm is also starting its own shipping service to compete with UPS for not only its own deliveries but also for their retail partners.
- MU Micron Technology reported strong earnings, reporting EPS and sales higher than previous guidance culminating with year-to-date earnings that could hit $10/share.
- QRVO Qorvo reporting better than expected quarterly earnings with slightly weaker short term guidance but stronger long term guidance.
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Kylie Jenner tweeted that she does not open her Snapchat Inc. (SNAP) app anymore and the stock is down over 8% in mid-afternoon trading. Kylie’s tweet along with a system redesign that has alienated many of its users continues to drive SNAP’s stock price down. SNAP is the largest short in the Application Software sector with $1.99 billion of short interest with shorts increasing their exposure since the beginning of January.
Twitter Inc. (TWTR) reported strong 4th quarter results with revenues up 2%, monthly active users up 4%, ad revenues up 1% and positive 4th quarter cash flows of $135 million. Twitter’s stock price responded by hitting $31.51 on Friday, topping the $30 level for the first time since late 2015. Twitter’s stock price was up +21.57% for the week, to the dismay of $1.3 billion of short sellers.
Snap Inc. (SNAP) reported strong quarterly earnings yesterday with revenues up 72% year-on-year and a net loss of $350 million which was less than analyst’s expected. Daily active users, a metric of market wide relevance in the social media sector, rose by 8.9 million in the quarter. Investors responded by lifting Snap’s stock price up 48% yesterday, pushing it over $20/share for the first time since June 2017.
Jefferies analyst Brent Thill joined Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge’s earlier downgrade of Snap Inc. (SNAP) stock today citing full valuation at Snap’s present stock price. While Blackledge lowered his target price for Snap to $11, Thill kept his target price at $15. According to Bloomberg, Snap now has double the amount of sell ratings, 10, than buy ratings, 5.
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Every week, S3 tracks short sellers’ equity positions in the US and Canada, revealing the trades that delivered positive results or missed the mark. After tracking $953 billion worth of short positions, the following is a list of this week’s top five best and worst performing equity shorts.
Snap Inc. (SNAP) is the largest short in the Application Software Sector but short sellers have been trimming their exposure to the stock ahead of today’s third quarter earnings release. SNAP short interest is $1.7 billion, an increase of $445 million, or 35%, since mid-year, but short sellers have covered $115 million of their positions in the last week and $278 million from its year-to-date high of $2.0 billion in mid-October.
Intel Corp. (INTC) stock spiked 6.7% in trading today after trouncing 3rd quarter earnings expectations. Intel’s pivot away from the PC-centric operation to focus on data centers and its memory businesses helped achieve record earnings per share of $0.94 during the third quarter. Earnings beats from other bellwethers helped the S&P 500 hit another record high today (up 0.75% today). Intel short sellers have not been as fortunate. Bearish investors are down $367 million in mark-to-market profits today alone.