Happy Valentine's Day!
Earlier this month, I took a look at four popular growth stocks where short interest was at a 52-week low on either Dec. 31, 2013 or Jan. 15, 2014. The exchanges offer up updates twice a month, so we don't have to guess on the bearish levels of publicly traded companies.
Data for the end of January was released earlier this week, and it seems three of the four are continuing to shake off the naysayers. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, let's take a quick glimpse at where the bearishness rests on the same four companies.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) -- 16.5 million shares sold short
The consumer tech giant is the only one to see an increase in short interest since bottoming out when the year began with a low of 14.2 million shares sold short. Apple didn't do itself any favors with an uninspiring holiday quarter report in late January. The market was disappointed to learn that the iEverything company moved just 51 million iPhones.
However, it also wouldn't be a surprise to see Apple's shorts clear out by the time the mid-February update is released later this month. CEO Tim Cook's revelation that Apple has repurchased $14 billion worth of stock since the quarterly report rocked the stock sends a loud message that the tech bellwether is willing to buy its shares on a dip. Knowing that, it would be a dangerous short unless Apple's fundamentals really start to unravel.
Either way, Apple is far from the point when more than 40 million shares were sold short at the end of last April. It's probably not a coincidence that the stock was bottoming out at the time.
Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) -- 2.9 million shares sold short
China's leading search engine had a whopping 15.6 million shares sold short in mid-June of last year. It has now gone on to shave more than 80% of that negative sentiment.
Baidu's turnaround has come as the realization that it can continue to grow despite the initial success of a new rival search engine that launched two summers ago. Baidu has been able to post healthy growth, and its guidance for the holiday quarter calls for accelerating revenue growth. Baidu reports on February 26.
Sirius XM (NASDAQ: SIRI) -- 218.9 million shares sold short
The only game in town when it comes to satellite radio continues to grow. It closed out 2013 with 25.6 million subscribers. Sirius XM's efforts to get its receivers into the majority of new cars rolling out of showrooms have paid off, as 44% of new car buyers become paying subscribers after their free trials run out.
It's also easy to see why bears have started to take their negativity elsewhere. Sirius XM's majority stakeholder is trying to acquire the rest of the shares. It hasn't offered much of a premium, but that interest should create a floor on the price for now.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) -- 5.2 million shares shorted
The leading video service was so hot in 2013 that it was the S&P 500's best performer. It hasn't given investors any reason to lose faith in 2014 by closing out last year with 44 million subscribers worldwide.
Today is the day when the second season of House of Cards debuts on the streaming platform. I guess that's just the way some companies celebrate Valentine's Day.
It's working for Netflix. The stock hit yet another all-time high on Thursday, and it's expecting a strong quarter, where it will reach 48 million streaming subscribers by the end of next month.
The shorts are clearing out, but these companies are doing what it takes to smoke them out.
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